Meet the Brewer: Luke Holgate of Hi-Wire Brewing
To celebrate this week’s bottle release of the latest seasonal from Asheville’s own Hi-Wire Brewing, we’ve got a quick Q&A with Hi-Wire’s head brewer Luke Holgate. Uprisin’ Hefeweizen was brewed a couple weeks ago using our Appalachian Wheat Malt and it’s a damn good beer. Kick back with an Uprisin’ and enjoy!
When did you start brewing? What was the first beer you ever brewed, and how did it turn out?
After receiving my BS in Biotech from RIT in 2007 I moved home and took a bar tending job at a local microbrewery. After really just hanging out and bugging the brewer who has since moved on to become the Head brewery engineer for a 100,000+ bbl/year brewery, I began to discover the parallels between my education and the science of brewing. I brewed my first home-brew in a brewery and have never truly home-brewed outside of a brewery atmosphere. My first brew was an all-grain (also never made an extract brew) grapefruit pale ale that was essentially a Sierra Pale clone with grapefruit rind in the boil and juice post ferment. It may just be because it was my first brew but I thought it turned out quite well.
Tell us about your approach to brewing a hefeweizen. What should we expect from Uprisin’?
Hefe’s are a funny style to me because I don’t personally drink them all that often. Although I certainly appreciate a good representation of the style it’s not typically on the top of my beers to order. That being said, I do appreciate the fact that a whole lot of people love them and so when I set out to write this recipe I was trying to make it for a hefe lover and not necessarily to my own palate. Finding the balance between the estery and phenolic flavors and aromas is to me the most important part of producing a good hefe. I have had examples that are completely banana laffy taffy, as well as ones that are thin and have no depth of character. My goal was to make a simple recipe that let the complexity of the yeast come through with a tightly controlled ferment so as not to over do the ester profile.
Tell us about your team of brewers at Hi-Wire.
Our brew team here at Hi-Wire is a great group of hard working individuals. We all have the same approach which is that we are doing this job because we want to learn more and more everyday. We have differing approaches to things like recipe formulation which is enormously important in us coming out with new and exciting brews. I am very analytically minded and need a number or a graph to correlate everything that is happening in my brewhouse whereas Brandon and Nick (two of the other brewers here) have a much more artistic approach to things like recipe formulation which keeps them from being buried in the data that I sometimes find myself blinded by.
What excites you the most about your recent expansion?
Our recent expansion has given us the ability to produce more of our flagship brands but possibly most exciting is the ability to fit more fun and experimental brews into our yearly repertoire. This means more Ringmaster’s Reserve brews as well as new and exciting seasonals.
If you had to drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If I had to drink one beer for the rest of my life I think I’d keep it simple. Pabst Blue Ribbon for all eternity.