Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Q&A with Top Rung Brewing head brewer Jason Stoltz

Ron Swarner

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Top Rung Brewing Co. head brewer Jason Stoltz / photo credit: Mike Besser, sales executive at Top Rung Brewing Co.

His first beer experience matched that of many other early teens: a room temperature MGD in the backyard while the parents were away.

Of course, I hated it,” says Jason Stoltz. “I dumped the rest then hid the can.”

Although his love for beer had a rocky start, Stoltz went on to become co-founder and head brewer at Top Rung Brewing Company in Lacey. Between the MGD dump and his brewing duties at Top Rung, Stoltz graduated with an Associate of Applied Science from South Puget Sound Community College and became a full-time firefighter with the McLane/Black Lake Fire Department, joining Capt. Casey Sobol, who would eventually be his home brewing buddy then business partner at Top Rung. The career firefighters — 21 years for Sobol and eight for Stoltz — took their hobby to pro after the duo’s Hosechaser Blonde grabbed the Dick’s Brewing “Beer for a Cure” home-brewing contest top prize in 2012 — and they began to shadow Dick’s brewer Parker Penley.

June 20, Stoltz and Sobol grabbed a gold medal for their My Dog Scout Stout in the American Stout category of the Washington Beer Awards. My Dog Scout Stout is one of the breweries three original brews that the brewery opened with in April of 2014. It was the first medal Top Rung has received and the first year to participate in the competition. The My Dog Scout Stout is named after Stoltz’s black lab, Scout.

Stoltz took a few minutes away from brewing and scheduling to answer a few questions.

PEAKS AND PINTS: What got you into home brewing?

JASON STOLTZ: I was curious about how beer was made. I thought: I really like this stuff, yet I don’t know anything about how brewers get the different colors, flavors, etc. I had talked with Casey Sobol about brewing a batch sometime. So, we bought a homebrew kit. I started researching and reading about how it’s made. Before we knew it, the hobby had grown into a passion.

P&P: If you could only brew one kind of beer style? …

STOLTZ: Mt favorite style would be the IPA, mainly due to IPA’s many sub styles: ISA, CDA, IRA, double IPA, triple IPA — even a Rye IPA. Whatever kind of mood your in — malty, dark, light, and of course hoppy — this style has it covered. Also, the different varieties of hops give any IPA a blank canvas to add different flavors.

P&P: Why do you think your My Dog Scout Stout earned a gold medal at this year’s Washington Beer Awards?

STOLTZ: I think the My Dog Scout Stout took a gold medal home because of some of the choices in malt selection giving it a few different layers of flavor ending on the base malt used. Also, our water allows us to brew darker beers very well.

P&P: Your recent Initiative ISA sold out quick. Will you brew more?

STOLTZ: Yes, more Initiative is on the way. We love Mosaic hops and were able to get what we need for the next few years.

P&P: You just release your Falconer’s Flight 7C’s Hop Pale. What’s the verdict?

STOLTZ: I’m happy with it. It has some nice citrusy, pineapple, and earth notes to it.

P&P: Have any new beers on the docket?

STOLTZ: The next one will probably be a pumpkin beer for the fall, though there maybe some pilot batches in August.

TOP RUNG BREWING COMPANY, 4-9 p.m. Thursday, 2-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, 8343 Hogum Bay Lane NE, Lacey, 360.915.8766