On The Line: Dennis Midden Of BrewBakers, Part One
Photo by Amanda DeFrancis
We once knew a co-worker that lived within walking distance of BrewBakers. While she drank a pint with her husband, her two daughters would make pretzels. We met them there a decade ago, not realizing how ahead of the times Dennis Midden was. Seventeen years old, the business still draws locals young and young-at-heart to develop their own beer while they chow on fresh breads.
How was your 17th birthday party? What did you do to celebrate? Our 17th anniversary was a celebration of 17 years of BrewBakers, three years of Purple Feet and my birthday! We celebrated with food, fun and entertainment. A very unique thing we do on the wine side was save a bottle from each batch from the previous year and open it that night.
What is your favorite beer? My favorite beer is BrewBakers' Oatmeal Wheat Stout 84. Out on the market, my favorite would be Yeti by Great Divide Brewery.
One food you can't live without. I have two-- Cheerios and mac 'n cheese. I think it is interesting to see how mac 'n cheese has gone from the cheap home meal to gourmet. BrewBakers offers a noodle sandwich, grilled cheese with mac 'n cheese on our great spent grain bread, and we also offer a mac 'n cheese pizza!
Tell us about the hops you grow. We grow hops at BrewBakers for decoration, but when we get a good crop, we recommend them to customers and use them in our batches-- mostly for dry hopping.
Strangest thing you ever drank. It's a beer that tried to duplicate the taste of a donut. They achieved it, but it's not for me. I think it's by Rogue.
Most undervalued ingredient: Honey. Great in beer and bread.
We hear you also brew lobsters. We do a Lobster Brew Ha Ha at BrewBakers where we actually cook lobsters in our brew kettles. A management team chose this one and brewed five batches. They also had fresh beer while they brewed. It was a great event!
Walk us through the brewing process. Brewing at BrewBakers is fun, easy and clean. We always say you do the fun part, and we take care of the mess. Individuals and groups have a great time in a fun environment to brew. It takes approximately two hours of time to brew a batch, and we price the beer (not the people) so it's a fun party. You come back two weeks later and spend about an hour to bottle and put the personal label that we help you create on the bottle. You can keg beer, too.
We say you need three parties: one to brew, one to bottle and one to drink the stuff. When bottling your beer, it is cold, carbonated and ready to drink! This is the best place for team-building, birthdays or any get togethers. Fun fun fun!!!
Let's discuss your love of baking. My love of baking started when I was 11 and used to drive with Mom to pick up my Dad at the bakery. I actually started working in the bakery when I was 13, and worked though high school and college. My Dad would say, "Learn the bakery and then do what you want. You will always have a job."
This has come in handy several times. As I tried other things, I would always end up on the bakery side in sales, tech service and even my own brokerage business selling bakery products to supermarkets. I developed a passion for the bread, and even went to school to learn more about the science of baking and formulation. Later, my wife bought me a home brew kit, and I started exploring microbrews. I would see a real relationship in the ingredients of the beer and breads; and when you look up the history of beer or bread, you always see the other. So it became a passion of mine to bring these two crafts back together under one roof.
Microbreweries and brew pubs were not the answer for me, but BOPs (Brews on Premises) were just starting to hit America in the late 80s and early 90s. I chose this as my way to tie beer and bread together, because of the customers' hands-on method. BrewBakers was born in 1996. Get it? Beer and Bread!
Best tip for the home brewer. I like to tell a new home brewer to brew at BrewBakers first so they can pick our brain.
What are your most popular beers and breads? Our most popular beers are our new Sasquatch 84Y, our Oatmeal Wheat Stout 84 and our Barleywine 66. Our popular breads are the German Bavarian soft pretzels and the spent grain bread, made with grains from our brews!
Weirdest customer request. My weirdest request was a nudist group wanting to brew.
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