Green Collar Careers: Portsmouth Brewery Brewmaster Tyler Jones
When Portsmouth Brewery Head Brewer Tyler Jones, who just turned 31 last month, describes the restaurant and brewpub's "do-it-yourself" ethos, he's not just describing the food on the plate or the beer in the mug. He's talking about the whole Brewery operation, where making everything from scratch means not only sourcing the best ingredients or never cutting culinary corners, but doing it all more sustainably, as well.
After serving for years as an assistant under brewing maestro Tod Mott, Jones took over the helm in July 2012 intending to continue with the Brewery's lauded tradition of uniquely honed libations.
It's a journey many years in the making. After studying chemical engineering at UNH, Jones spent a stint working for a Portsmouth manufacturer before earning his Master Brewer's Certificate from the University of California, Davis in 2006. Intent on turning his love of home-brewing into a career, Jones - a 15th generation New Hampshire native - returned to the Seacoast in 2006, and began working for the Brewery soon after.
Today, Jones oversees an operation that has become one of the most respected of its kind. And it goes well beyond the Brewery's iconic, glass-encased brew house. From the increasingly local menu to a growing number of efficiency measures, from charitable initiatives to tireless composting and recycling, the Brewery has become a beacon of sustainability on the Seacoast.
AS: What do you like most about your job?
TJ: Is everything a good answer? The truth is that there is so much I love about making beer and doing it at the Portsmouth Brewery. I love the creativity I have in the brew house to keep making new and interesting beers; I love being able to sit next to the people drinking my beer and chatting them up; I love the people I work with and how passionate they are about the product we produce in the brewery. But if I had to put on a thumb tack what I love the best about my job...it's that brewing is the perfect blend of art and science. It keeps both sides of my mind active and engaged.
AS: Where did you go to college? Does your college education help with your current job? What skills from college most prepared you for the work you do now?
TJ: UNH with a chemical engineering degree in 2004. My UNH education has been extremely helpful in my field. I can thank Dr. Vasu (P.T. Vasudevan) for giving me the poster presentation assignment of "The Bio-Chemistry of Beer Production" when I took Biochemical Engineering with him. I had just discovered a home brew kit in the closet of the house I was living in on Old Landing Road in Durham and was totally immersed. He saw my excitement over it and wanted to push me down the right path. That is what led me to go to UC Davis for the Master Brewers program.
AS: What do you look for in an employee in this field?
TJ: First and foremost is a passion for beer. Without passion for what you are doing, in any field, you are not going to live up to potential.
Second is a strong work ethic. The truth is that as a brewer you are a glorified janitor. I mention this jokingly, but the cleanliness of the brewery is a super important part of the brewing process. We are making a food grade product as well as growing yeast to ferment our beer. We impart many of the same cleaning techniques of a pharmaceutical company on the inside of our tanks. The outside of the tanks, the floor and the walls need to be kept clean so as to not introduce unwanted microorganisms into the process.
AS: What made you integrate sustainability into your business/go into a green industry?
TJ: The brewing industry has been on the forefront of sustainability for many years. There are many large-scale breweries across the country that are completely run by wind power, or solar, or by creating their own hydrogen fuel cells. I'm excited to see what Smuttynose is planning to have for sustainability in their new project in North Hampton.
On the brewing side of the Portsmouth Brewery, we do the normal heat recovery during knockout, and our spent grain is given to two local farmers (Meadows Mirth Farm in Stratham and Brandmoore Farm in Rollinsford) rather than being put into the landfill.
On the restaurant side of the Portsmouth Brewery, we have biodegradable to-go bags, containers, silverware. We compost all of our food scraps and have two separate dumpsters for recycling of mixed containers and cardboard. We are able to bring the food cycle full circle in the kitchen by giving our local farmers a weekly budget and they bring us whatever they have that is fresh and ready to use. So, more often than not, when you eat dinner or lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery, you are enjoying some locally grown produce, locally raised meat or locally caught fish. Buying local is the best sustainable practice that I know of.
AS: What are you most proud of in your business as related to sustainability?
TJ: I am most excited that we are able to provide the full food cycle. The spent grains from the brewing process and compost from the kitchen go to feed local animals and nourish the local land where our food is grown, and then ultimately show up as delicious food on the plates at the Portsmouth Brewery.
The Portsmouth Brewery is a green-certified business with Green Alliance. To learn more, visit www.portsmouthbrewery.com.
Austin Sorette is a junior English major at UNH and a writer for the Green Alliance.
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