Authentic British Ales at Davidson Brothers Brewing Company

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Davidson Brothers Brewing Company in Glen Falls, NY. It was my first time in that part of New York and I couldn’t have been more impressed. The beautiful weather, a kaleidoscope of autumn colors, and great beer – life could definitely be worse. Co-owner Rick Davidson and Master Brewer Jason Kissinger were nice enough to let me hang out and help at the brewery while they and their team brewed up their signature Brown Ale.

One distinct aspect of Davidson Brothers Brewing is their fairly unique British, brick kettle, Peter Austin Brewing System. I don’t know if this is some kind of confirmation bias coming into play or not, but when I tried Davidson Brothers’ beers after our brew session, it felt like I could “taste” the brick kettle in the flavor and mouthfeel of the beer. There’s also a characteristic “British” smell, taste, and mouthfeel to their ales. This is in large part due to the Ringwood yeast strain employed by Davidson Brothers and other traditional British breweries. If you’ve ever tried a beer by Samuel Smith Brewery, you’ll have a good sense of what I’m talking about. It’s exactly what you’d expect a true British style ale should taste like. Anyway, I could rave about Davidson Brothers all day. Without further ado, let’s get to our interview with Master Brewer Jason Kissinger.

Davidson Brothers Brewing Company Master Brewer Jason Kissinger
Davidson Brothers’ Master Brewer Jason Kissinger standing in front of the brick kettle system



How did you originally get into brewing?

Like many people in the industry, I first started by homebrewing. Although, I did not pursue it to the extent that many people do today and never thought that it would lead to a career. After college (with a degree in a completely different field), I was fortunate to find that Davidson Brothers Brewing Company. was looking for a new brewer. I took the job just to pay the bills, expecting to ultimately find something else in my chosen field. However, it turned out that I enjoyed being a brewer. That was six and a half years ago.

What attracted you to Davidson Brothers Brewing Company?

The beer, definitely the beer. Davidson Brothers specializes in traditional English ales and I was always impressed with the type of beer they produced. It was the kind of beer that I enjoyed drinking. No matter the style, it was always balanced and complex. What solidified it for me was the day that I discovered one of my favorite beers, a house ale from a local restaurant called the Algonquin Amber, was actually produced by Davidson Brothers.

dbros-logo-in-brick

Tell me about Davidson Brothers’ Peter Austin Brewing System – what are some of the advantages and disadvantages?

The Peter Austin brewing system that we use is unique. There are currently only 22 breweries in the U.S. that still use this system the way it was originally intended. We have a brick-clad kettle with direct fire heat, and we use open-top fermentation that features a proprietary yeast strain that is over 180 years old. The system is modeled after traditional English brewing techniques, similar to the Ringwood brewery or Sam Smith’s and Fullers. As a result, we can produce authentic English ales better than most. Lagering is a little tricky with the equipment, but can be done.
kettle-with-mt

How do you come up with new and experimental beers?

When we write a new recipe, we always start with a lot of research. We try to write recipes that match specific styles first, addressing all of the technical aspects before putting our own twist on it. I think this helps us to create balanced beers. We don’t have a pilot system, so our test batches are 217 gallons. We have to get it right the first time.



How has homebrewing influenced you as a professional brewer?

Homebrewing didn’t have much of an influence on me as a professional brewer, other than a basic primer into beer making. Just about all of my training came while working for Davidson Brothers. I also had the opportunity to work with Master Brewer Alan Pugsley, who originally taught Rick Davidson to brew in 1996, and who trained me on several aspects of the craft from brewing techniques to recipe construction.

Are there any upcoming new releases or upgrades to the brewery?

We will be getting new enclosed fermenters shortly so that we can release a few styles that feature different yeast strains. The core of our products will still be with our house strain, but having a few specialty ales or lagers will be nice. Cans are also on the horizon.

open-top-fermenters

What are some of your favorite breweries? Excluding Davidson Brothers, of course

I’m a big fan of balanced beers. If I’m going to have a few at the bar then I want my taste buds to still be intact when I head home. Fullers and Sam Smith are always classics. Shipyard Brewing, Brooklyn, Oskar Blues, and Sierra Nevada consistently produce some great, drinkable products. Locally, a brewery called Common Roots that opened a few years back is putting out some good Belgian styles too.
Neil Soni
Neil is an avid homebrewer and an even more avid beer explorer. He can be reached at neil@brewmastersreserve.com.

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