Featured in this Meet the Brewmaster series are three friendly faces from Manayunk Brewing Company. Today we get to learn more about the Head Brewer behind Manayunk’s brilliant brews, Evan Fritz, and his experience in the craft beer industry.
Evan’s craft brew experience goes back over a decade. After getting hooked on the intricacies of the brewing process via a Food Network special on home brewing, he immediately bought his first brew kit. The rest was history. As he continued home brewing and soaking up knowledge at his local homebrew shops over the years, he also served as President of the Barley Legal Homebrewers club, the largest homebrew club in South Jersey. Evan realized that craft beer was his passion and left corporate America to pursue it, and I’m really glad he did! Read on to see how he’s influenced the way Manayunk brews its beer and if you’re in the Manayunk area, stop in for a free tour of their brewery.
Name: Evan Fritz
Nickname: Beer God
Title: Head Brewer
Favorite MBC Brew: Cuvée de Yunk. I love sours and the apricots are a great compliment to the acidity and funk.
So, once you decided that craft beer was your passion, how did you start out at Manayunk Brewing Company?
EF: I started working at Manayunk in 2011 as a hybrid sales rep and cellar man. As our distribution area expanded it quickly became more sales-focused. Then in 2013 the head brewer position opened up and I became the head brewer.
What is a day in your shoes at the brewery like?
EF: I run the entire brewery from brewing and cleaning tanks to creating our brew schedule, purchasing raw materials, maintenance, packaging, canning, and everything in between. I work with my brewery team to create the production plan each year with a focus on growing the brands we currently offer as well as producing new brands that appeal to our loyal customers.
What do you love most about your work?
EF: I love the freedom of crafting each beer that we brew. Starting with a simple idea, then creating a recipe, formulating a brand, and turning it into a product that sells in over 500 locations in two major states (PA & NJ). It’s no simple task, but it’s very rewarding. I also love working with our barrel program procuring oak barrels from all over the world and aging our beers to our tastes.
Do you have a favorite beer style?
EF: I enjoy sours the most. There are so many types of styles these days that it is hard to single out just one but I prefer a sour that also has a Brett characteristic.
Is there a beer you haven’t brewed yet but want to try?
EF: I am excited to brew a Schwarzbier sometime in the coming year. I am especially interested in learning about how to balance the roasty malt character with the smooth, slow fermentation character of a lager.
Of all your experiences in the craft beer industry, what do you feel has been your biggest brewing success?
EF: My proudest achievement is doubling our current capacity/output at Manayunk Brewing Company. When I took over brewing responsibilities we were hardly distributing our cans. Now we are in most craft beer stores throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Okay, here’s a tough one. If you couldn’t drink your beer, whose beer would you drink and why?
EF: Some of my favorite beers include Rodenbach, Cascade, Upland, Rare Barrel, Avery, and Crooked Stave. These breweries are creating some world-class sour/wild beers that I just adore and also admire. I aspire to create beers that can stand side-by-side with them.
Craft beer is a great industry, one open to brewing and trying new styles and flavor characteristics within them. For those craft beer lovers who have skeptics at home, what would you recommend as a gateway beer?
EF: Everyone has different taste buds, but I believe that craft beer styles conducive to new craft beer drinkers include hefeweizens, witbiers, lagers, and pale ales. These styles are approachable and not too complex.
photo courtesy of Manayunk Brewing Company