From locker brewer to brew master | VailDaily.com

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From locker brewer to brew master

Special to the DailyTony Simmons, the president and head brewer at Pagosa Brewing Co has spent 15 years crafting beer; he got his start trying to make beer in his locker while in high school.

Editors note: Brew Genius, a seasonal weekly feature, profiles some of the homebrewers competing at this years Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival, which takes place Jan. 10 to 12 at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa. For more information on the event, visit http://www.bigbeersfestival.com or call High Point Brewing at 524-1092.

Vail Daily: From a style and/or technique standpoint, where did you start? Where are you now?Tony Simmons: I started homebrewing in my high school locker (very unsuccessfully) and have evolved into a nationally award winning professional brewer. I have always likened myself to being a Beer-Evangelist in educating others about the amazing choices of beer. As such, I strive to master a particular style of beer (e.g. IPA, English Brown, Stout, etc.). Once Ive dialed-in the beer, then the real fun begins with tweaking the recipe to push the boundaries of style, while always keeping it very drinkable. VD: Do you brew alone or with others? Why? TS: Over the years, I mostly have brewed by myself. It tends to be a surprisingly meditative activity. However, its a real treat to brew with others, especially my wife, who is an award-winning brewer herself.VD: Where do you brew? How many beers do you have cellaring at any given time? TS: For homebrewing, we begin in the kitchen with small batches. As the size of the brews increased, we moved to the garage. Our professional brewery is really one big garage now! For homebrewing, I always had some three to six beers on tap. For the Tasting Room at our brewery, we usually have eight to nine beers available.VD: Do you brew enough to drink your own beer all year long? TS: Of course! A day without handmade beer is a sad one indeed!VD: Whats your favorite commercially produced beer? TS: My own! However, without being too self-serving, I usually enjoy a well crafted (usually unfiltered) beer. It would be a travesty to just pick one! My preference varies by season, by cuisine, and by mood. Thats the real beauty of craft beer, the infinite number of choices.VD: Whats your ultimate beer food pairing? TS: Pulled pork marinated with our Poor Richards Ale, or chocolate cake made with our Soakers Stout.VD: What are you entering in the Big Beers Homebrew Competition this January? (Name/Style) TS: Im not entering, but judging again this year.VD: Whats your favorite beer quote or motto? TS: Always Drink Fresh Beer!VD: Why is beer wonderful? TS: Its a handcrafted beverage that goes with everything!VD: If you couldnt drink beer, what would you drink? TS: Id just go thirsty!For more information, visit http://www.bigbeersfestival.com.