Meet Ahren of Southend Brewery | Brewpub in Downtown Charleston SC read about his foamy adventures inside the Brewing Process.
Talking to Ahren is easy and, sipping cold beers might just incite a short walk down memory lane. Ahren attended Furman University, studying Psychology at Furman, he worked with a Brewmaster at a microbrewery part time and furthered the education that his father, a home-brewer, had begun many years previous. At that time, brewing was a part time passion for Ahren, helping with the bills and fueling his imagination, but it wasn’t his main pursuit. He graduated from Furman with his Psychology degree and then worked for several years as a chemical engineer in Summerville before starting at Southend, which did not start out as Brewmaster. “Oh, I was just like all these guys,” Ahren tells me as he sets down his beer, “I did whatever was needed: waiting tables, cleaning, food, you name it.”
He stands and walks towards the front of the restaurant to examine the new grain shipments, which are received in the morning. Huge bales of grain packaged in 25 kg bags and stacked like Lincoln logs to chest height. “Five and a half years I’ve been working here,” he says, “and about four and a half of those have been spent brewing. I’m very lucky.”
- The empty, and spacious, Lauter Tun before…
Ahren explains, “sometimes you have to get in, to help clear out the remaining husks and spent grain.” The size of the kettle is demonstrated as Ahren laughs and climbs inside of the enormous copper pot through a set of small doors.
Ahren climbing in… He’s in… He’s Out!
The Brew Kettle is equal in size to the Lauter Tun, the Brew Kettle is where the hops are added, and Ahren really love hops. The distinct bitterness that accompanies a hoppy beer is a mark of good breeding for him and one of his signatures in a brew. “Can’t have sweet without bitter.”
He pushes some buttons, turned some knobs and hot water (over 200° C) begins to spray into the kettles from within, cleaning and sterilizing the equipment for the next brew. For more of the technical stuff, visit Southend’s Microbrew page and Launch the Brewing Process.
“It’s fulfilling, rewarding and fascinating, with an intricate level of chemistry and engineering involved.” Southend’s owner in 2010, requested to “revamp” the beers, including name and formula, for a new taste at Southend Brewery. Ahren comes up with the current Southend seasonal, which is always a labor of love on his part.
Ahren begins to tear into the clear plastic packaging around the pallets of grain sitting around the bar and, between lifting the great sacks, he says: “this isn’t just a job for me. It’s a hobby, a pastime, hell, a passion that I get paid for. It doesn’t even feel like work most days.”