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Meet the Brewers Series: Tap It Brewing

Posted October 6, 2016

Update on 11/6/2018: Tap it Brewing is now Santa Maria Brewing Co. 

The inaugural SLO Beer Week is taking place throughout San Luis Obispo on October 16 – 22. In honor of the upcoming festivities, we sat down with local Tap It Brewmaster, Ryan Aikens to chat about beer, SLO and his missing tonsils (yep, you read that correctly). Check out what he had to say below and don’t forget to plan your trip to SLO for Beer Week.

Meet Ryan Aikens, Brewmaster at Tap It Brewing Co.

I’ve been brewing professionally for 23 years (over half my life). I started at the 1st BOP (Brew On Premise) in the US doing recipe design and QA/QC. I have worked from small brewpubs to production facilities in the brewing industry. I have also worked with 2 different OEM brewery equipment manufactures and over 35 startup breweries, both in the US and internationally. I also took a 2-year hiatus from brewing to craft cider at Crispin Cider.

What do you love about being a brewer in San Luis Obispo?

SLO has a blossoming brewing community that has its own regional flair that stems from the agricultural and viniculture history with mix of both Northern California and Southern California influences – i.e. the Central Coast.

What makes San Luis Obispo a unique destination for craft beer?

I am a big believer in saying that flavors and profiles in beers are a direct result of the environment. The further north you go or cooler the temperature, the richer the body becomes. And the exact same goes for the further south you are and the warmer it is, the dryer the beers become. And with the Central Coast, we have an array of micro-climates that lend to a fabulous blend of flavor profiles that come out of our beers in the area.

What makes Tap It Brewing Co. unique compared to other craft breweries?

That’s a question for someone else. As a small brewing community here in SLO, I say we are all doing some unique and fabulous beers. One thing I will say is that here at Tap It Brewing Co., we craft our beers not to fit into style guidelines, but by the flavors themselves and are big fans of tertiary flavors that build the beers flavor and complexity.

What is Tap It Brewing Co.’s most popular beer?

By far our IPA, with its balanced Citrus/Tropical notes and rounded body.

How about your favorite brew?

Our Pilsner, Continuum. I have always been a giant fan of a good pils with a rich delicate malt profile with a soft spicy hop character.

How do you decide on new beers to brew next?

That is an interesting question. I’d say that it comes from mood, weather and desire. How do you decide what to cook for dinner? Your being just sort of tells you what it desires.

What is your favorite style of beer to brew and why?

Don’t really have one. Beer’s a mood and meant to accentuate your situations. So, why would I have a style preference in brewing? I get equally excited for the technical side of consistency as I do for flavor changes in aging and secondary fermentation in wood.

Describe the most unusual beer that you’ve ever brewed before.

Probably, a zero boil lacto/Brett fermented 9% wheat beer in bourbon barrels that had hops added half way through fermentation for their anti-microbial aspect.

What are you most excited about for SLO Beer Week 2016?

I know I’m least excited about seeing myself on screen in the documentary “Craft” at the Fremont on Monday the 17th of October. But, truthfully the coming together of Industry folk and craft beer lovers across the city is always exciting to see.

When you’re not brewing up a storm, where can we find you in San Luis Obispo?

I like to be out and about, playing horseshoes, hiking, or at the gun range relaxing. Pretty much anything that allows me to enjoy our beautiful Central Coast weather.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that not many people know.

I was born without tonsils. True. But unfortunately my wife and I decided not to breed, so I’ll never know whether I am higher evolution or deformed.

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Instagram: @smbc_sanluisobispo