Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Northern United Brewing Company Hires John Walsh as Head Brewer

Written by  Dianna Stampfler
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Northern United Brewing Company

In anticipation of the opening of its new 75,000-square-foot brewery in Dexter, Northern United Brewing Company has hired John Walsh as its new Head Brewer for the Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak brands. Walsh comes to Michigan most recently from Maui Brewing Company in Hawaii. Over his brewing career, Walsh has racked up a more than two dozen awards while crafting beer for Hawai’i Nui Brewing Company, Keoki Brewing Company and Oak Creek Brewing Company.
Ron Jeffries with John Walsh “The first time I drank a Jolly Pumpkin beer, I knew there was something different about them,” Walsh says of his first introduction more than 10 years ago. “There is literally like nothing else like it on the market.  Other breweries make sour beers, but these are different.”  

While visiting his home state of Michigan in 2005, Walsh stopped to visit Jolly Pumpkin and meet with owner/brewer Ron Jeffries.

“The thing that struck me about Ron was how humble he was about everything,” Walsh recalls. “He acted as if these amazing beers were just part of a day’s work." 

Walsh said he returned to Arizona, drinking JP beer whenever and wherever he could find them. And, he kept in touch with Jeffries with periodic emails. A few years later, the two reconnected at the Kona Brew Fest in Kailua-Kona, HI. There began discussions about a possible collaboration brew and by 2010, those talks began to take shape.

Walsh was working at Maui Brewing Company when the owner, Garrett Marrerro, asked him for input on who they should partner with for their first ever packaged collaboration beer. When Walsh suggested Jolly Pumpkin, Marrerro (a fan of JP and a friend of Jeffries’) gave the green light.

“He told me I had no boundaries or limits, cost restrictions or anything for the beer – just make something great,” says Walsh. “The next day while at a West Maui Beach, I texted Ron and asked him if he was really up for it – he was, so we began working on the recipe and tossing ideas back and forth.”

The two brewers worked together to come up with the recipe, while visiting each other’s brewing facilities. They then used their own brewing styles to create two distinct versions of the beer. Maui Brewing used standard fermentation while the Jolly Pumpkin version was an open-fermented, barrel aged and bottle conditioned sour ale, using naturally occurring wild yeasts.  The brew, Sobrehumano Palena 'Ole, is a red ale, brewed with liliko'i (passion fruit) and Michigan cherries. The beer was promoted and released and received very positive reviews, winning a medal at the 2011 US Beer Open.

“I’m excited to join Ron in his efforts to expand both the Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak Brands,” says Walsh. “The new facility offers a lot of opportunities and possibilities.”

“John is a great brewer, and over the last few years has become a great friend,” says Ron. “Needless to say, our entire staff is super excited to have him join our family.  Adventure awaits!”

Northern United Brewing Company:

NUBC encompasses the Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, North Peak and Grizzly Peak beer brands, Civilized Spirits and Bonafide Wines, all dedicated to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants, and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, all in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.

Dianna Stampfler

Dianna Stampfler

Dianna has been referred to as one of the most motivated, energetic and passionate leaders in the tourism industry, with more than 20 years of marketing, public relations and media relations experience.

She launched Promote Michigan in August, 2004 and has successfully established herself as an independent marketing representative for an impressive list of clients including Traverse Tall Ship Company, The Homestead Resort, ShowSpan Inc. (including Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival, Michigan International Auto Show and Grand Rapids Boat Show), Michigan Apple Committee, Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds – Michigan, Harbor Country CVB and Michigan Brewer’s Guild, among others.