8×8 Q&A: Gigantic and Moonzen

As the 8×8 Collaboration Festival (November 3rd & 4th) gets closer on the horizon, our 8 pairs of brewers from Greater China and the Pacific Northwest are starting to move forward with plans for their collaboration beers. Over the remainder of the summer we’ll be checking in with 8 questions for each pair to learn a bit more about them and try to get a hint of what beers they’ll be sharing with us this fall…

First up: Gigantic Brewing from Portland and Moonzen Brewery from Hong Kong:

Q1: Where are you from, and how did you get into brewing?
Ben Love (Gigantic): Portland, Oregon. I had moved out to Wisconsin following a girl and was working as a courier for Fedex. I had to decide what to do next and its was either be a chef or start brewing. I decided to give brewing a try and got a part-time job at the local brewpub. I really enjoyed the work, so I enrolled in the American Brewers Guild brewer education program. That lead to a full-time brewing job back in Oregon at Pelican.
Laszlo Raphael (Moonzen): Originally from Mexico, now I live in Hong Kong where Moonzen is based. I got into brewing when I moved to Hong Kong. I couldn’t find any good beer to drink and my wife was obsessed with baking and in the kitchen every weekend, so I decided to take up a ‘manly hobby’ and make my own beer.

Q2: And the rest is history… Tell us about three of your favorite beers made at Gigantic/Moonzen. What makes them special?
 Pipewrench – our gin barrel aged IPA. We take Gigantic IPA and age it for 3 months in locally distilled Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels. Ransom barrel-ages their gin for a year, then empties them and we get the recently emptied barrels that are soaked in gin. The resulting beer is a delicious combination of citrusy hops and botanical gin, with a french oak barrel flavor in the finish. Kölschtastic – we make it in the traditional way with German pilsner malt and a kölsch yeast. A simple beer that’s ridiculously delicious and perfect at almost any time. The City Never Sleeps – our Imperial Black Saison. A myriad of malts and a Belgian yeast create a black beer that is complex with dark chocolate, cherry, blackberry, toffee, floral, and peppery spice, yet still finishes light on the palate.
M: My favorite beers at Moonzen are the South Cloud Yunnan Lager, Yama Sichuan Porter, and Dragon King Fujian Radler. They are three ‘provincial style’ beers, drawing inspiration from a unique ingredient from each province in China: Yunnan raw pu’er tea, Sichuan peppercorns and chillies, Fujian honey pomelos.

Q3: Where do you draw your inspiration from as a brewer? Have you ever tried using Chinese ingredients in a beer?
G: Inspiration comes from other beers, drinks and food. I have never used Chinese ingredients in a beer, yet.
M: I draw inspiration from stories in Chinese mythology, and the unique ingredients from China’s different provinces.

Q4: Why did you decide to join 8×8, and what makes you excited about traveling to Beijing?
G: It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with brewers in another part of the world. The ideas that come from collaborations can be incredible, and I think with brewers coming from different parts of the world the ideas can be even more exciting. This will be my first trip to China, so I’m looking forward to experiencing as much as I can when we are there.
M: We decided to join 8×8 because it’s a great opportunity to get involved with a group of other breweries and foster the beer community in greater China. We are always excited to travel to Beijing – that’s where Michele and I met in Peking University!

Q5: What’s it been like to work with the brewery you’ve been paired with?
G: Laszlo from Moonzen and I came up with a number of ideas. We have a fairly similar outlook on brewing. I’m excited to present our finished beer to everyone.
M: Good stuff, we share similar values and tastes in beers and easily agreed on a final recipe.

Q6: Great! Can you share some of the ideas you’ve tossed around for your collaboration beer, and have you picked a final recipe yet?
G&M: The final beer with be a sour (lambic) fermented beer using an ingredient from Oregon and China.

Q7: Sounds great, that’s an ambitious brew! A couple last questions.. what’s your favorite pairing between beer and Chinese food?
G: Chengdu Hot Pot with a cooling lager.
M: Beer and pan-fried jiaozi.

Q8: They must have pretty good hot pot in Portland, Ben, considering you’ve never been to Chengdu before. I think your answers are both spot-on. Last question: if you could sit down with anyone (living or dead) and have a beer, who would it be and why?
M: I’d have a beer with Genghis Khan just to see his reaction to drinking a Sichuan Porter.
G: Leonardo Da Vinci…
He would have made one hell of a brewer! Thanks for your time, guys, now get back to brewing that lambic!

Look out for more updates on 8×8 in the coming weeks, and to get your tickets click here!