Kristen Kuchar's picture

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Big Beards in Beer

Not all great brewers sport facial hair, but there seems to be a link between craft beer and beards. Take Großen Bart Brewery in Longmont, Colorado for instance. The brewery – its name literally meaning Big Beard in German – is devoted to all types of facial hair. A majority of the brewery’s award-winning beers have beard-related names, including Chin Curtain IPA, Stubble Kölsch, Friendly Mutton Chop Marzen, and Hulihee Irish Ale.

Head Brewer Walter Bourque points out that brewing is a busy and physically demanding job, so since brewers don’t need to shave, many opt not to. “We could spend 10 extra minutes shaving or 10 minutes sleeping before going in,” he says. The brewery hosts a beard competition each year in July, with categories ranging from mustaches to a lady’s category, where participants create a beard to sport out of beer boxes, feathers, yarn and more. There’s also an award for beard of the month, beard oil for sale and a barber who is available every Thursdays for customers to have a pint while they get a trim.

We wanted to get input straight from the source on why brewers opt to grow beards. Read on to hear what they had to say.

Brian Hink | Cape May Brewing Company

Why do you sport a beard? I've always been a big fan of beards and facial hair. It probably has something to do with being a big hockey fan growing up and seeing the guys rocking their sick playoff beards. Once I was able to grow a beard, I was hardly ever clean-shaven, and once I decided to really let the beard grow out, around 12 years ago when I was 22, I never looked back. I let it go for 5 years, keeping it shaped and groomed but always longer in length. But I was working at a corporate retail coffee shop and, on a whim, they decided it was too much of a beard for their image and requested I shaved it. Not being one to sell out my personal values, I opted to part ways with the company instead of shaving, and a week later landed a gig behind the bar working here at Cape May Brewing Company. Working my way over to the production side and climbing my way up to head brewer and production manager before transitioning over to my current role of Innovation Director. My beard and I have never looked back!

What is the link between brewing and beards? 
I think the industry has always been very accepting of individuality and letting people express themselves. My approach to brewing has always been as that of an artist or a pastry chef: have fun with flavors, try new things, experiment, don't be afraid to take risks -- and freedom of expression is a big part of why the craft beer industry has grown into the beautiful scene it is today. How can we be so expressive with our art and not be expressive ourselves? That's freeing. Much like a painter or a guitarist doesn't have to wear a uniform or adhere to a dress code, we brewers can rock our own look. 

John Maier | Rogue Ales & Spirits

Why do you sport a beardThe inspiration to sport my beard came from when I was living in Los Angeles working for Hughes Aircraft, working swing shift on the radar systems for the F-14. It was the 70s, and men had facial hair. The guys would go out after work, drink beer and play foosball. I started sporting a beard in 1978 and has never shaved it since - it's the original one I started with.

What is the link between brewing and beards? You might have to ask the brewers of yore when most men sported beards. Look up any brewer from the 1800s or prior and, like today, most have beards. It is also said that the hops and barley in beer contribute to lustrous hair growth so I may have my craft to thank for the facial hair.

Andy Coates | Ozark Beer Company

Why do you sport a beardI sported a beard before I got into brewing, but was living in Colorado, where beards seem to have been popular for years.  Miners, explorers, outlaws, deadbeats and the like all migrated west, and I feel akin to that spirit in some way.  When I got my first job in brewing, I had been a raft guide and short-term ski bum, and a beard just fit into that lifestyle easily.  Having a beard meant less fuss, especially when you spend most of your time outdoors, or live in a tent for the summer. I’d usually just let it grow for at least a year, then trim it into a fantastic mustache or other look each Spring.

What is the link between brewing and beards? I think beards in brewing follow what I described about the culture of the West and the mountains; less fuss and concern about appearance, and more people interested in enjoying the finer things is life. Not being required to shave or have a specific dress code mirrors the paths of brewers, with many leaving other professions or more corporate environments and choosing to sweat and work hard in a warehouse or brewpub. It should also be noted that I am fairly bald, so sporting a beard falls naturally into having some sort of hair in my appearance, and that some of the finest beers I’ve had are made by people without any facial hair at all. 

Mark Theisen | Coronado Brewing

Why do you sport a beard? I personally have a beard because I have had one since long before I worked in this industry and now when I don't, I feel like my chin disappeared and I don't recognize myself when I look in the mirror.  It's very strange.

What is the link between brewing and beards? I could make some ubiquitous joke like "you can't say beard without beer" but I'm sure you'll get more than a few of those responses.  The reality is I really never understood the connection. I bet Freakonomics could pore over the data and make some correlation between interest and appearance but it might just be as simple as this: It's a dirty job.  You spend most of your day filthy and damp so being meticulously quaffed seems less important.

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velo.mitrovich's picture
Due to a fight with oral cancer in my mouth and neck, my beard of 22-years had to go and remain off as of July 5. I feel too naked to go into a brewery now. Even my dog still looks at me a bit funny.


velo.mitrovich's picture
Due to a fight with oral cancer in my mouth and neck, my beard of 22-years had to go and remain off as of July 5. I feel too naked to go into a brewery now. Even my dog still looks at me a bit funny.


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