Friday, May 15, 2009 | Brewmaster Peter Zien took over Alesmith Brewing Co. in 2002 and has presided over a rise in output from 800 barrels a year to 2,000 barrels a year since then. Last year, the Mira Mesa-based brewery won the coveted Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year awards at the Great American Beer Festival.
Zien, who has a law degree from the University of San Diego, started home-brewing in 1994 and has become an icon among local brewers and beer fans by producing high-octane beers with names like Speedway Stout, Horny Devil and Wee Heavy.
We sat down to talk with Zien about pairing beer with food, the worst beer he’s ever had, alcohol, and the city’s burgeoning brewing industry.
What’s the worst beer you’ve ever tasted?
Well, there’s some home brews that I made as an amateur that I wasn’t very proud of. Sometimes the nature of experimentation takes you places you don’t want to be.
There’s an ingredient — a medieval spice called sweet gale — that is reputed to cause rapid drunkenness. So I made a beer with that and it really turned out candy sweet. It was really bad and I made more than one of my friends sick.