Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a head brewer or how someone becomes the head brewer of a local craft beer establishment? I interviewed our very own Head Brewer, Robyn Guille to answer those questions and more.
Robyn has been with Moody Ales almost since the very beginning (one month after opening, to be exact). Having started as a volunteer after being referred by Steel & Oak’s Jorden Foss, Robyn is now our Head Brewer. He does a little bit of everything, but his primary responsibilities include every aspect of producing Moody Ales beers from brewing and cellaring to carbonating and packaging. Robyn also handles most of our cask work (except our Special Bitter which is taken care of by Sho Ogawa). Robyn completed one year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and has three and a half years of home brewing experience. He also has an undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria in Anthropology and Sociology.
Courtney: How’d you end up in brewing from anthropology and sociology?
Robyn: About two thirds through my undergrad, I discovered an archeological field called archeology of beer and brewing and I thought that was really fascinating. I started studying ancient beverages and alcohols. That got me really interested in beer and right around the same time, my oldest brother was getting me into craft beer so it slipped together pretty perfectly.
When you’re not working or home brewing, what do you do in your free time?
What do I do… a few things. I go for hikes every once in a while. I try to get out kayaking, get out on the water. Sometimes I just nerd out and play video games. I like to play board games with friends and family.
What kind of video games?
I’m into turn-based strategy games. I like playing split screen co-op games so I can sit on the couch with friends, have a couple beers and have some fun.
Why the craft beer industry?
It was something really fascinating and I think what I’ve always wanted to look for in a career is something that was kind of physical but also kind of intellectually challenging. I didn’t really want to sit in a cubicle or just be doing some mindless physical labour, so that’s where it looked appealing to me.
What’s your favourite thing about working here?
Probably the people. I work with great people… And the beer’s good too.
What’s your current go-to beer outside of anything by Moody Ales?
When I was living in Victoria it was the Lighthouse Tasman Ale, but in Vancouver here, it’s probably Steel & Oak’s Royal City Ale.
Let’s Get Weird
Would you rather fight one horse sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
[laughter] oh, the age old internet question. I think I would fight one-horse sized duck.
What strategy would you employ to fight said duck?
I would find the largest baguette I could find to distract him.
Would you rather never be able to drink beer again, or if every time you drank beer it tasted like the worst beer you’ve ever had?
That’s an unfair question! If beer didn’t taste good I probably wouldn’t drink it.
Would you be able to stay in a relationship with somebody who said that they hated beer?
Probably not, no.
Note: Thankfully Robyn is engaged to a lovely woman who does, in fact, have a passion for craft beer.
If you were two inches tall and I threw you into the mash tun, what would you do?
I would probably drown because it’s pretty much like quicksand. I actually saw a meme about quicksand yesterday.
I’ll have to dig that up for your bio.
Describe your high school self.
I was a floater. I wasn’t necessarily popular but I was able to mingle with different social groups. I was just kind of there.
What’s your favourite type of donut?
I think a long john.
Okay, so, say I have a box of long john donuts and I left them on this table and walked away. I tell you not to eat any before I get back. How long would it take you to eat a donut if I don’t come back?
I don’t know, ten or fifteen minutes? Depends on how hungry I am.
Would you blame somebody else?
I’d fess up to it.
A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does the penguin say and why is he here?
Specifically, yeah, a sombrero.
[laughter] these would be really good spontaneous interview questions. Honestly the first thing that comes to my head is “Say hello to my little friend” but in a Mexican accent.
Right, right, of course. So why is he here?
He’s selling lollipops or something.
Turning the Tables
Because I am interviewing and writing bios for all of our employees, I give everyone an opportunity to ask me a few interview questions in return.
Robyn: I think I’ll ask the same question you just asked me
Courtney: The penguin question? Okay. That’s funny, that’s what Chris asked me too. My penguin is here because he got on a cruise ship, was aiming for Mexico, got off one stop too soon, and he’s wandered into our bar. He’s looking for a drink, so we get him drunk on beer and throw him in the kettle to wade around. That’s what my penguin’s doing in his little sombrero.
What do you like the most about working at Moody Ales even though you’re relatively new here?
It was the people for me too, that was the draw. It doesn’t feel like torture to come to work and I like the flexible culture here.
Yeah that’s definitely really appealing. Dan and Adam treat everybody with a lot of respect. One last question: what is your favourite beer outside of Moody Ales?
When I first started drinking, I drank Corona all the time — it was all about the Corona. And then I heard these horror stories about their processing plant and I stopped drinking Corona. So next it was Heineken all the time and then I went to Amsterdam and did the Heineken experience and geeked out there.
Super cool tour. I love that tour. Definitely one of my favourites, for sure.
Outside of our beers… I don’t drink a lot of beer outside of our beer. I drink wine, can I say wine?
Yeah that’s fair.
Too keep it local, I like Blasted Church’s Syrah and Burrowing Owl’s Cabernet Sauvignon.
There you have it, a peek into the mind of Moody Ales’ head brewer! Stay tuned for more staff bio’s.