Tony Simmons, Award Winning Brewer

An interview that sheds light on the creative genius of a Master brewer, Tony Simmons – Pagosa Brewing Co., Pagosa Springs, CO

Q. Tony, you’ve won many awards for your brews over the last 10-12 years. Where does your inspiration for brewing come from?
 A. Yes we won our 87th beer award with a Best of Show at the Colorado State Fair. I’m inspired by classic beer styles, and some of the great beers I’ve been fortunate to quaff in my travels… often leading to beer recipe dreams at 3am!
 
Q.How did you get started in brewing beer?
A. Ever since high school I was fascinated the concept of turning one ingredient into another – like alchemy.  Unfortunately, the school leaders weren’t fascinated when they caught me trying to brew at school.  They pulled me into the principal’s and asked, “Tony, Do you have an alcohol problem?” I responded, “No sir. I’ve got a fermentation problem!”
 
Q.What is the most popular beer you’ve ever served?
A.We’ve brewed some pretty amazing beers over the years that have a developed a cult-like following. I’d say that Coconut Porter might be our most sought-after beer locally. Then, after winning the Silver Medal for Specialty Beer at the Great American Beer Festival, Coconut Porter has become somewhat of a legend.

Q.The traditional brew that you created based on colonial recipes is intriguing. Can you talk about your inspiration on that beer?

A.I won the recipe contest in 2006 to craft the most authentic Colonial beer for Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday. I was flown to Philadelphia as one of only 300 people the country to light Ben’s birthday cake at ceremony held at the National Constitution Center. The recipe rational goes like this – with the documented shortages of both malt and hops in Colonial American, I felt that the brewers in Ben Franklin’s time would have used local ingredients to make up for the shortfall – specifically Corn (a truly American ingredient) and Molasses (the ubiquitous sugar of the era.) Poor Richard’s Ale was a big hit, and still one of our top sellers nearly 10 years later. 
Q.What do you like about your new location? 
A.More space, efficiency, and the opportunity for extended barrel-aging.
 
Q.Do you have a philosophy about microbrewing/artisanal beer making that you can share?
A.Drink local craft beer!  While packaged beers receive the of the media’s attention, never forget about your local brewpubs. They educate the populace about craft beer one table at a time.
 
CAC: Tony, I’m still thinking about the Chili Verde Cerveza and Rob’s favorite was the Porter he ordered. 
Tony: “Glad you enjoyed the beers. The Chili Verde Cerveza was created for my wife on Cinco de Mayo. It was so popular, it’s become a flagship and has since won State and National golds.  Our Porter will be going on tap  to celebrate my son, Porter’s, 2nd birthday. He helped brew it too!”

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