I'm Fox N Hare's Assistant Brewer and Cellarman. My top priority is cleanliness. Clean kegs, clean tanks, clean lines, clean brew house. A great beer recipe can be completely ruined by infection if the vessels they're contained in are not taken care of properly. Cleaning products must be used to insure the tanks, kegs, etc are ready for beer storage. I'm basically a beer janitor and I love it.
To me the most important thing I do at FNH is keeping the equipment clean from start to finish. From the beginning of a brew day in the mill to the finished product weeks later running through beer lines into a glass. A clean fermenter means nothing if the bright tank you transfer into is a mess. Even the lines we use to transfer beer from one tank to the next need to be free of any hidden materials that could cause off favors in the final product. Everything and anything beer touches needs to be cleaned thoroughly.
One of my biggest pet peeves is dirty draught lines and dirty glassware. Nothing is more frustrating than walking into a bar/restaurant (brewery especially), getting excited about a beer on tap and seeing bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass or tasting an off flavor (think butter and vinegar) thanks to dirty beer lines. It's completely avoidable and can ruin a great beer. As for dirty glassware, remember the old remedy of ridding a beer of its head if it's too large? Take your pinky, swipe it on the outside of your nose and stick it in the head of the beer. The head will disappear and your beer is ready to drink. Oils kill head retention and affect the way a beer looks, smells and tastes. A beer presented in a dirty glass (aka, an oily glass) served through dirty draught lines is an instant buzz kill. (See what I did there)
Every 14 days I bleed every line, run 155 degree water through each, add caustic to 165 degree water that I will then run through each line as well and burst rinse each line with 155 degree water again making sure all the caustic is gone. This procedure eliminates proteins, carbohydrates and hundreds of other organic compounds that create deposits in each line. Acid is used in the same fashion every 3 months to rid the lines of any inorganic material such as beer stone.
In addition to brewing on a larger commercial scale I am also a homebrewer. I tend to gravitate towards brewing IPAs because it's what I enjoy drinking the most. I usually follow the seasons. Porters and stouts in the colder months and pale ales and IPAs in the summer. The last thing I brewed was a porter. I used 12lbs of Munich, 2lbs of wheat I roasted in my oven, 2 oz of carafa III and 0.5 oz of crystal 40L. I used a first wort addition of UK Fuggle and a flame out of Chinook. The nose is piney and roasty and the taste isn't too far behind that. For the most part reading any book I can get my hands on is where I get my information. I'm behind the times with the podcast craze but lately I've been listening them in between reading as much as I possibly can. If you are a homebrewer that wants to move to the pro level my advice would be to take any job you can get at a brewery. Sweep floors, bartend, clear tables, clean toilets. Literally anything. I started out in the Singlecut kitchen later moving to bus boy and yes I cleaned toilets. Anything to be around beer and people who love beer. You are not above any job especially when it's something you truly want.
If you take beer seriously and want to further your knowledge I strongly urge anyone and everyone to take the Certified Cicerone exam. Give yourself six months to a year to get comfortable with the information and truly buckle down. Study styles and their vitals, get comfortable with the brewing process, know food and beer pairings and know draught maintenance. There are flash cards you can purchase from the Cicerone site among other study material and advice on what to use to prepare. You don't need to be in the business you just need to know the material. So if you're looking for the ultimate beer geek bragging rights you've found it.
One of my favorite beers from FNH is Frozen Pines. The traditional style of an IPA has always appealed to me. The malt sweetness in Frozen Pines pairing with the woodsy, citrus hop flavor is a perfect balance. Though I am partial to all our beers that one has always stuck out in my mind. It's hard to pin down just one all time favorite beer. For me it's a tie between Guinness and Two Hearted ale by Bells brewing company. I think it's more about nostalgia at this point, those being the two beers I ever tried. Nonetheless they have stuck out in my mind.