Gone Gold: Black Star’s Head Brewer on GABF 2015

We asked Black Star Co-op’s head brewer, Andy Martinec, to answer a few questions about the most recent trip to the Great American Beer Festival and Recalcitrant Dockhand’s gold medal win. 

You and Mike are both relatively new brewers, what does this sort of critical acknowledgement do for you moving forward?

Andy: It’s amazing to have something like this happen this early in your career but I have to give a ton of credit to Jeff and Chris (the brewers before me) for setting us up for success. We were trained very well by both of them and the recipes have been tweaked for years to finally get to the point that they are at.

The Texas craft beer scene is increasingly more visible on a national stage. Do you foresee this trend continuing? Do you foresee Austin’s (and maybe even Black Star’s) influence increasing as well?

A: Texas, on the whole, will continue to grow and be seen as a competitive craft beer producer around the country/world. Austin’s influence has no choice but to increase. With this city being one of the most desirable places to move to, quality will continue to go up and competition will drive ingenuity and creativity.

Are you going to try to produce another medal winning beer, or are you already over the awards show rat race?

A: I am not quite that jaded yet. We will continue to submit beers for competition and if one of them is recognized, that is awesome! If not, that’s OK too. We produce beers we want to drink and try to make them in a unique way. Sometimes, though, they do not fit into a style guideline, so naturally they do not stand to win any medals.

How difficult is it to drive 900 miles the morning after a Gold Medal win?

A: It’s actually pretty easy when you are in the back seat sleeping.

How did you decide to submit Recalcitrant Dockhand for judging at GABF?

A: Traditionally we do not brew this beer until November since it is so hot in Texas and Porters just simply do not sell as well as a lighter offering. This year we decided to brew this beer 2 months early specifically to enter it into competition. We knew the last time we brewed this beer it was awesome and thought it was a pretty accurate representation of the style so that is essentially what drove our decision.

Is there anything that you learned during the brewing process of this particular batch that you’ll try to replicate?

A: Keep the malt bill the same. I am a firm believer that this beer is what it is because of the Weyermann malts that we use in it. They are extremely flavorful and full of roasty coffee and chocolate notes, which, in my opinion, is why it is such a solid Porter.