Whit Baker, 36
Brewmaster and co-founder, Bond Brothers Beer Company; co-founder and head brewer, Ancillary* Fermentation; co-founder, Standard Beer and Food
You taught high school chemistry at Durham School of the Arts before moving into the beer world. How did you make that transition?
I wasn’t really into beer in college until I was 26, 27. I basically geeked out on the nerd factor, the process of making beer. And then the first year of homebrewing, I got my beer-judge certification. Now I drink more beer than I did before—when I didn’t like beer—but I’m still pretty much into drinking beer for the sake of flavor.
How did you go from being certified as a judge to homebrewing to founding Bond Brothers to Ancillary* to all of these other things you’re doing?
I just think about beer. I’m pretty much obsessed with beer.
If you go to a new city and you drink a beer you haven’t had before, where does your brain go—to the chemical processes behind what you’re drinking?
At this point, yes. But it’s one of those things where, if you think about it so much, you make different pathways. Now I think about it more like a chef.
You told me that light beers sell a lot better than dark beers.
Yeah, generally. People are kind of conditioned at this point. IPA is craft beer, right, until you get to be a little bit more of a nerd or you start going to a taproom and asking what everyone else wants to drink or what is their favorite. Everybody wants a hazy IPA, clear IPA, or lager. I don’t know specifically why. I wish it was different. I think that dark beers, you know, the malts give them more complexity. I personally know that my least-favorite thing to do is dry-hop a beer.
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