Jaron Shepherd is the Senior Brewer at 21st Amendment‘s San Francisco Brewpub. Jaron told us about his cranberry catastrophe, what happens to the oysters when they’re done brewing oyster stout, and his controversial opinion on pumpkin beers.
I moved to San Francisco in 2007 to study anthropology. Graduated in ’09 with a degree and bounced around at different jobs until I discovered a passion for home brewing and started working for 21st Amendment. I also enjoy playing guitar, disc golf, backpacking and checking out new breweries.
How did you get started brewing professionally?
I discovered a passion for brewing at home, and sought to find a place in the industry to work. After working my way up from a bartender, I got my shot brewing for 21st Amendment.
What is your favorite part of the brew day?
My favorite part of the brew day is the first hop addition in the kettle. It fills the brewery with an amazing aroma.
What was the biggest mess you’ve made making a beer?
Back when I was brewing at home, I made a cranberry saison. I added cranberries in the primary, while the yeast was still very active. I came home to discover the airlock was plugged with cranberry bits. As I pulled the bung out of the car boy, pressure had built up due to the plugged airlock, and shot cranberries and yeast all over my white ceiling and walls. Fun….
What’s the strangest ingredient you’ve added to a beer?
Oysters. They are not an ingredient that is very common in beer, but at 21st amendment we brew an Oyster stout called Marooned on Hog Island. Eating the oysters afterwards was a nice reward after a brew day.
What was your happiest moment as a brewer?
There are so many happy moments. Since I’m forced to choose one, I would say it was when we received a few medals at the 2015 GABF. It was my first year brewing, and I felt very proud to have helped brew 2 award winning beers.
Which breweries should I check out next time I’m in San Francisco?
Cellar Maker – some of the dankest beers in the city
Magnolia Smoke stack – Great beer and BBQ
Local Brewing – Great atmosphere
You’re being exiled to a desert island…which three beers are you bringing with you?
Russian River’s Blind Pig
Sierra Nevada Summerfest
What dumb joke are people always making about your job?
People always joke that brewers just sit around and drink beer all day. It’s actually a labor of love, and a lovely labor.
What’s the most underrated beer style?
Pumpkin beers. There is a lot of criticism out there on pumpkin beers for just being spiced beers. Personally, I love a good pumpkin ale, spice or no spice. Pumpkins are indigenous to this country so I consider it a very American beer style.
What beer should be served at your funeral?
Shephweizen. It’s my take on a German hefeweizen, and the name would be very fitting.