Ask a Brewer: Speakeasy's Kushal Hall

Speakeasy Lagers and Ales is San Francisco's other packaging brewery (besides Anchor). Founded in 1997, this Bayview/Hunters Point brewery is responsible for Big Daddy IPA along with several other beers you'll find bottled and on draft around town. Speakeasy's weekly open house (scroll down for more info) offers some special treats you'll find only there, and also at the brewery's upcoming 13th anniversary party on August 7, from 2 to 7 p.m.

For our first “Ask a Brewer,” Kushal Hall ― lead brewer at Speakeasy ― spoke easy.

SFoodie: When did you start brewing and what was your first homebrewed beer?

Hall: After getting my B.A. in Fine Art at UCSC, I found myself with absolutely no idea how to make rent, so I moved home to my parents' place for a while in Claremont, California, where I grew up. There, my dad and I started homebrewing together. I had recently discovered that there was beer with flavor after having a Black and Tan, which had spurred a great interest in dark beers in particular. My first brew was a partial grain stout that my dad and I brewed on the stovetop using an old recipe of my dad's, “Frothingslosh.”

How'd you become a professional brewer? It didn't take long for me to realize that brewing beer would be a lot more fulfilling than shooting portraits of crying babies, and off to San Francisco I went. I started calling brewpubs and sending out resumes (embarrassing ones, listing all the types of beer I had homebrewed). I saw a Craigslist job posting to work on the packaging line at Speakeasy. That was my in; I spent the next nine months pestering every bit of information I could out of our packaging manager and the brewers while stacking cases and scrubbing floors. Soon I assisted operating our bottling line and training new employees on it. After some turnover on the brew side I was offered a position as the night brewer. I ecstatically accepted, and two years later I'm leading our three-person brew team.

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