For someone who hadn’t quite tapped his first commercial beer, Twain’s new brewer David Stein had created quite a buzz.
In early December, 28-year-old Stein took over from longtime Twain’s brewer Jordan Fleetwood, publicly announcing his plans to “make the best damn beer Atlanta has to offer.”
Some people may have found those comments a tad cocky, Stein admitted during a conversation at the Decatur brew pub.
“Partly, I’m young and inexperienced,” Stein said. “But I’m excited, too. If people know me, they’ll read those comments and laugh rather than think I’m being cocky. When I made the comment that I want to make the best damn beer in Atlanta, I was thinking that every other brewer in Atlanta was striving to do that, too.”
In late January, Stein hosted a small preview event at Twain’s, where he showcased seven new beers that will be part of the regular rotation, plus a pair of one-off beers made to highlight his plans for an ongoing collaboration series.
Ryan Smith of Empire State South, Molly Gunn and Nick Rutherford of the Porter Beer Bar, Paul Calvert of Pura Vida, Dave Blanchard of Brick Store Pub and Eddie Holley of Ale Yeah were among the guests from the Atlanta culinary and beer communities who bellied up to sample Stein’s first brews.
“I want to focus on cutting-edge American-style beers,” Stein said. “I guess you’d say the kinds of beers with more intense, aggressive flavors, though I’m really big on keeping things balanced. If there’s an extreme hop presence or an extreme roasty bitterness, I want to balance that by a residual sweetness or some other element.”
Stein, who is a University of Georgia grad, developed many of his recipes home brewing under the Creature Comforts name, giving away samples to friends and building a following while working at Brick Store Pub and Ale Yeah.
“Starting as a home brewer, I took a little different path to professional brewing,” Stein said. “I built an underground following that brought me to this position.”
Stein’s current beers at Twain’s include Tropicalia IPA, a tropical fruit-driven brew made with a new hop variety called Zythos; Langhorne IPA, an amber ale with floral, spicy and piney notes designed to be the brew pub’s flagship IPA; and Black Eye Roasted Rye, an India black ale from a recipe by fellow Twain’s brewer, Chase Medlin.
“We want to keep the typical brew pub customer happy and at the same time introduce them to some new styles that aren’t being widely offered at brew pubs,” Stein said. “A lot of those styles are being offered commercially in the larger beer world, so it gives us a chance to tie the two together.”
As to the near future, Stein said his first goal is to master the brewing system at Twain’s. After that, he wants to help grow the brew pub’s business.
“I want to bring people in to try exciting beer, whether it’s somebody who doesn’t know anything about beer or it’s an extreme beer geek,” he said. “I know this is a special opportunity, and I want to make the most of it.”
— Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog