Welcome to our new website, and the first edition of the Brewer’s Log! It is here that I will keep you up to date with all the brewery’s news, developments, and otherwise inane ramblings. I’d like to start by introducing myself. My name is Dana Bourque. I am the head of brewery operations here at Firefly Hollow. I’m the guy you can love when we put your favorite beer on tap, and the name you can besmirch when we run out of IPA on your first trip down in a month.
My abnormal obsession with fermentation started the same as many in my current situation…as an obsessive compulsive homebrewer with a lust for the excrement of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Growing up, my father played the role of occasional homebrewer, so transmission of such knowledge was a natural part of our relationship. I began as many, a terrible failure. The first beers I produced tasted of burnt sugar, stale hops and, somehow… farts. But I wouldn’t be deterred! I was born with a stubborn streak, and so I thought the perfect pint was nearly within my grasp! I set on the path of learning. I read every book on fermentation and beer styles I could get my hands on, and while I couldn’t sit and read Pride and Prejudice for more than ten minutes (though the film is charming) I could power through tomes upon tomes of zymurgical knowledge in naught but days.
I started my career in the brewing industry in 2010 at the Thomas Hooker Brewery in Bloomfield. There, I worked as cellarman, tape wrangler, and label adhesion engineer. This is where I first fell in love with the workflow of a brewery. In 2011 I began an education with the American Brewer’s Guild, a private institution which teaches the trade of brewing to prospective industry members. It was with the guild that I developed my technical knowledge to support what I’d learned as a homebrewer. At the end of my time with the guild, I proceeded into a formal apprenticeship with the Willimantic Brewing Company, to whom I remain endlessly thankful for putting up with the tomfoolery of a young brewer who, naturally, already knows everything.
I’d be remiss if I failed to mention my employment at Brew & Wine Hobby, a homebrew supply store in East Hartford, CT. My time here was arguably some of my most valuable. The homebrew shop put me in endless contact with all different types of hops, malt, and yeast varieties I had never even heard of, and the demands of the job require I know the smallest quirk of each ingredient. Constant exposure and trial and error was how I learned the craft. I also trained with my now business partner and CoOwner of Firefly Hollow, Rich Loomis, to become a recognized Beer Judge. We put all our own creations on the chopping block, and learned from our mistakes. The day-in and day-out tasting, analyzing, and questioning of beer quality calibrated our taste buds to detect even small faults in beer. These experiences have allowed me to become my own harshest and trusted critic.
I could talk about myself all day, but I’ll take the opportunity to round out this post with some words of wisdom. The more you learn about beer, the art of fermentation, and the history of what beer is, the farther away and more fleeting the perfect pint becomes, replaced by the simple satisfaction that most beer is near perfect as long as it’s shared with the proper company.
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This post was written by Rich Loomis