This past month we welcomed Andy Parker to our brewing team as the Director of Innovation. An industry veteran, Andy comes to DBC from Avery Brewing where he spent the past 18 years. As one of the most senior members of Avery’s brewing team, Andy has been involved in the recipe development of nearly every beer Avery produced for the past fifteen years, from one-keg rarities to best sellers. Notably, he earned four medals for Avery from the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer and three GABF medals including a gold in 2020 for Liliko’i Kepolo. Before Avery, Andy was on the brewing team for Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii.
Andy brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity to the Denver Beer Co brew houses. We’ve put him in charge of recipe development for our taproom breweries and named him the boss of barrel-aging. Recently, we sat down with Andy to get to know the man behind the barrel. Here’s what he had to say.
Denver Beer Co: You’ve been at Avery for a long time and have had a great run over there. What piqued your interest about Denver Beer Co and our Director of Innovation position?
Andy Parker: Yeah, I was with Avery for about 18 years and I absolutely love the people. I’ve had a lot of fun over the years making friends and making good beer. But my skill set doesn’t benefit Avery as much as it did when the brewery was smaller and more nimble. I’m a beer geek. I love the creative aspect of brewing, and the freedom to try new styles and ingredients. I was really drawn to Denver Beer Co because there is a culture surrounding quality, while at the same time a willingness to try new styles, trends, and sometimes just experiment with something for fun. I will always love my Avery family, but it was time for me to explore something new.
DBC: What are some of the beers you are most proud of brewing over the course of your career?
AP: Avery gave me the opportunity to get involved in the creative process for hundreds of beers. But for me, the most noteworthy accomplishment was starting their barrel-aging program. About 15 years ago I walked into Adam Avery’s office and asked him if I could purchase some wine barrels for a project that we would bottle and send out to dozens of states. He was all for it and we were off to the races. That first barrel-aged beer became the first of about 60 unique barrel-aged projects that we produced over the past 15 years. I’m really proud of that legacy.
DBC: Tell us more about your barrel-aging philosophy.
AP: Two main things. The first big one is to make you’re sourcing the best barrels you can. Once you’re planning on aging something in an oak barrel, that wood becomes the fifth ingredient. You need to be just as particular about that wood as you are about hops, malt, yeast, and water. Sometimes that means making connections with distillers and winemakers that you trust, sometimes it means going through brokers, but aging in a spent barrel will be a waste of time. The second one is frequent tasting of the barrels so that you don’t let a project sit too long. Aging something in an oak barrel longer does not always make it better. Sometimes I prefer a younger Scotch to an older one, and sometimes aging a beer for a few months is better than a few years.
DBC: Are there any new recipes or beer styles you are excited to brew once you join our team?
AP: I’m really looking forward to working on the 7 barrel system for its flexibility and nimbleness. And I love the idea of creating beers that are hyper-local and reflect the neighborhood. For example, the new Downing Street taproom is in the Rosedale neighborhood of Denver, so I was thinking we could do a Belgian Golden Ale with rose petals, just for that taproom and neighborhood. I want to create beers that are perfect for hanging with friends and good company, and that doesn’t always have to be a strong barrel-aged beer.
DBC: What are some of your favorite existing DBC beers?
AP: I really enjoy Juicy Freak. It has a nice hop character, mild bitterness, and easy drinking quality that is typical of the juicy or hazy IPA style. I love making big, experimental beers, but when I’m relaxing after work I’ll reach for an IPA the majority of the time.
DBC: What trends do you predict for the coming year/years to come as far as beer styles go?
AP: I think the Hazy IPA is here to stay. Just like a classic west coast IPA, there is a lot of variety in the hazy/juicy category to keep things interesting. No two taste alike. Once you’re in the industry for a while, you end up realizing what a vague descriptor the word “hoppy” is. It’s the equivalent of tasting a bottle of wine and calling it “grapey.” The truth is that the possibilities are endless on hop varieties, hop technology, and ways to use them, so creative brewers will constantly come up with new techniques and new flavors.
DBC: Outside of the beer world, what do you like to do for fun?
AP: One of the reasons I moved to Colorado was to play nationally competitive ultimate frisbee, but I retired years ago. As it turns out, I wanted to spend more time in the mountains. I love to ski, backcountry more often than not. In the summer you’ll find me trail running or mountain biking. And I do enjoy playing video games with a childhood buddy of mine. If I can ski all day and then go home and be a samurai, then it’s a good day.
DBC: Thanks for sharing Andy!
We’re so excited to welcome Andy to our family and can’t wait to taste what he has in store for our pint glasses. See you on the patio soon!