Rob Tod of Allagash Brewing Co.

May 12, 2016

Since the brewery’s first batch of Allagash White, produced in 1995, Tod has gone on to become one of the most recognized and admired brewers in the country.

Tod, an avid traveler, sampled many unique Belgian ales and he made it his life's work to share these flavors with American drinkers. Tod assembled a small 15-barrel brewhouse with used equipment and began his quest to produce Belgian-style beers with an American craft brewer’s spin.


D.L. You took a big chance two decades ago, creating Belgian-style brews for the American drinker. Why did you take the risk?

R.T. When I started, I was on a shoestring budget and planned to build the brewery myself over a long period of time to save money. I figured if I was going to spend a year building a brewery by myself and possibly a lifetime running it, I didn’t feel like it would be as fulfilling to make beers similar to those currently being made. I looked at the Belgian brewing tradition as an opportunity to give people unique experiences with beer that they’d likely never had before.


D.L. Your sour beers have become quite popular. Do you see this style staying around for a while or do you think it’s a craze that will pass?

R.T. I absolutely think it will stick around for a while. Sours may never reach a level of popularity that results in a substantial market share for the segment, but once people discover the uniqueness and complexity of a well-brewed beer that uses wild yeasts and bacteria as a component of fermentation, their perspective on beer is permanently changed.


D.L. Your Coolship beers, crafted using a traditional Belgian method of spontaneous fermentation, have been very well received. What’s in the works? Will you continue to release new sours?

R.T. We’ve been making these beers since 2007 – a short time compared to the decades and even centuries that some Belgian breweries have been making them. Although we feel that we’ve learned a lot over the last nine years and have refined our spontaneous brewing craft, we feel that there is plenty for us to learn with the Resurgam, Red and Cerise. We’re going to focus on continuing to refine these three core beers we brew in the coolship.


D.L. What changes have you had to make to the brewery in order to brew sour beers?

R.T. We’ve had to take a lot of steps to make sure that nearly every piece of equipment that we use to create the sours is used exclusively for those beers. In addition, we’ve created separate cellar spaces in order to ferment these beers and a separate bottling line to package them. Of course these beers are made possible by a lot of microbes like Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, but we take every precaution available to ensure they stay out of our core beers so that we can maintain our quality and consistency.


D.L. Do trends ever influence what you brew?

R.T. Since day one, we’ve always been motivated to offer drinkers, and ourselves as brewers, unique experiences with beer – with aroma, with flavor, with food pairing. We are absolutely not driven by “trends”. We’re fulfilled by brewing beers we love and sharing them with people who love beer.


D.L. Your newest year-round release, Sixteen Counties is named to honor the rich tradition of farming in the sixteen counties of Maine. Can you tell us a bit more about the beer and where a portion of the proceeds will go?

R.T. We have been using ingredients from local farms dating back nearly a decade – the strawberries, cherries, plums, raspberries, pumpkins and blueberries in our wild fruit beers all come from Maine. The quality of Maine-grown malts for brewing has been steadily improving and we’re excited to be able to showcase these farms in a beer. We’re proud to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sixteen Counties to help support organizations focused on sustainable agriculture and family farming in Maine.


Read the full interview here:


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