Sunday, September 13, 2015

September 13th, 2015 - "Changing The World One Beer At A Time": An Interview With Beer Guru Marcus Clifton

Marcus Clifton, the innovative and passionate manager of the Barrelhouse in Ogden, Utah is on a bold and challenging mission.  His goal is to be the guy that completely changes the craft beer culture of Northern Utah... and Utah in general!

I recently spent an afternoon with Marcus at his house sampling craft beer, touring his hop garden and home brewing mecca, and chatting about his views on the craft beer industry as a whole.   Here's that interview for you my friends:

Where are you originally from and what go you interested in the craft beer scene?
I was born in small town called New Bern [North Carolina], but I went to school in Raleigh... and it's a booming town.  Right now there are 15 craft breweries... when I left there were only 3.  I've always worked in restaurants and I got a job at a pizza place that opened up around the corner from me.  Their focus was made from scratch food and 30 taps.  Day one, I went in there and memorized all the beers we served.  My first craft ale that I fell in love with was a brown ale called Bad Penny.  I literally fell in love with craft beer... all the potential, all the different flavors... I had never experienced anything like it.

What brought you to Utah and got you started in the beer scene here?
I am a snowboarder so I moved to Utah to snowboard and started working at Slackwater the following summer.  They gave me control of the beer menu from day one.  So I decided if I'm going to control the menu then I better learn about beer.  So I started studying for the BJCP [Beer Judge Certification Program] and really used that job to legitimately study beer.  I'd done a few home brew batches when I live in North Carolina, but I hadn't really done it, you know?

How did you get involved with the Barrelhouse?
While working at Slackwater, I split a pallet with Shane from the Barrelhouse.  He offered me a job.  My first focus was to get some new beers in.  My second focus has been to really organize this place.

What is your vision for the Barrelhouse?
My vision for the Barrelhouse is simple: to be the best beer bar in Utah.  I want to be known as the guy that changed Northern Utah's beer scene. 

How do you think the industry has evolved over the past 5-10 years?
The U.S. is an amazing place to live if you love craft beer.  We innovate.  We've changed everything.  Now Japanese breweries are copying our styles and recipes.  Looking back on it now with how big the craft beer world is, I really appreciate the fact that I got in on it a decade ago.

What breweries or beers or styles interest and really excite you right now?
I'm really excited by sours right now.  They are the fastest growing style currently.

After a long day of either brewing or working down at the Barrelhouse, what beer and album do you like to kick back with to relax and decompress?
I love Built To Spill and David Byrne and I like to pair with what we are cooking, but I would pair "Stop Making Sense" by Talking Heads and a Double Jack IPA [from Firestone Walker Brewing Company].

Make sure to get down to the Barrelhouse ( at 315 24th Street in Ogden, Utah... tell them Brews and Tunes sent you!!  Cheers!!

Marcus' hop garden

Home brewing system

One of the many beers being brewed in the Clifton house

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