This is (right)Rod Landess, owner, and (left)Shawn Davis, head brewer, of the New Boswell Brewing Company.
How did you start New Boswell’s?
Rod: "Basically I wanted to start a business. My senior year in college I had to do a project for a business class I was taking. I did a business plan for a brewery. [At the time] I was home brewing with my friends…up at Ball State. That’s where this idea for a brewery [came from.]"
Where did the name New Boswell come from?
Rod: "Ezra Boswell started a brewery here [in Richmond, Indiana] in 1816… We were reading about the history of beer in eastern Indiana. It turns out the first brewery here [in Richmond] was started by a Quaker, Ezra Boswell. He was the first town clerk, he was a school teacher, and he was a brewer…
"There was one physical description we found of him. He had one eye. So everyone in our pictures has an eye-patch. [Points to posters and t-shirts hanging on the wall. The drawn characters all sport an eye-patch.]"
Shawn, how did you get started brewing beer?
Shawn: “I got started brewing as a hobby. My friend and I started making home brew beer in his garage. [Starting out] it was all extract brewing. Which is basically a bunch of sugars. We just kept advancing our equipment and moving up. We moved [up from extracts] to what’s called a partial mash. It still uses some extracts, but going towards more grain… As we put more money into it, we went to all grain brewing. Which is what all the brewing is here [at New Boswell].
“From there, we joined a home brew group that meets here [at New Boswell] every month. Started talking to other people that are home brewing. It’s such a wonderful pish-posh of people. We’ve got people who are chemists, professors, and the laymen, like me. Everyone has their own style and [different ways] of breaking down brewing. Some people break down the whole thing in a scientific way. For them it’s really neat, the chemistry and the biology of it.
“For me, I was a cook for 20 years… [Then] this became more and more of a passion. Every night I was brewing beers. I was giving them out to everyone I could. Just to have people taste them…I still home brew… It gives me a chance to experiment on a smaller scale...
“Cooking is a wonderful passion. You get to take a whole bunch of things from everywhere in the world, and you get to make this delicious melting pot… When I make beer, I incorporate everything I know from cooking into it… I sit and eat the grains, tasting the different maltinesses to them. I just start throwing things together as if I was making a gazpacho. That’s how I make beer.”
What’s the best non-traditional or craziest beer you’ve come up with?
Shawn: “I took a recipe that Rod had. We were trying to make a Christmastime beer. He was focusing more on a gingersnap cookie taste. For me that wasn’t really a traditional wintertime/Christmas taste. In the wintertime our bodies know that we’re supposed to bulk up and [we seek out heavier foods and beverages.] Things that make us feel warm and comfortable. With this [Christmas] beer, all I kept thinking about was my late grandmother’s gingerbread. The nice dark, thick, and gingery bread, but also the nutmeg, mace, and bit of clove. I ended up re-doing his recipe. So many people said to me, “Man, that tastes just like cake.” It was boozy, malty, and a lot of flavor in it.
“My other crazy one is my bergamot beer. Rod pretty much threw a challenge at me. He ordered a bunch of bergamot fruit. He said, “I want you to make a beer out of these.” For three weeks I was taking little pieces of the peel and going over the flavor in my head. What flavors go together with it? Bergamot has a really peppery, basil-y flavor to it. I kept thinking it was like a bruschetta flavor. But what do I want to put that bruschetta on? I’m not going to incorporate the balsamic sauce that most people would associate with a bruschetta, especially in a beer. But I do want something that will highlight the peppery, the citrusy, and the little basil-y of it. So I started thinking of those little rye toasts. I can put the bruschetta on that and contrast the flavors with the rye. I ended up making a bergamot and light malted rye beer. It sold out so fast. The thing about bergamot is it’s so seasonal. It’s going to be next winter before we can get more.”
above: "Grains. Different styles of grains from different regions… You get different maltiness-es, sweetnesses and flavors when you use different types of grain."
right: "We’ll throw together our grain blend, then mill them in our homemade hopper... We’re milling that down to a consistency like chicken feed."
You can see part of the homemade hopper behind Shawn.
left: "A brewer never makes beer. He just makes really good wort. Wort is what beer is called before it’s been brewed. Yeast makes beer...This is where all the chemistry plays into it."
Shawn: “When I joined up with Rod a year ago…I started volunteering with him. He’s always liked the beers that I’ve made as a home brewer. I would bring them in [to the home brew meet-up group] and everybody would like them. Part of what we do in this beer club is bring in our beers and everybody tries them. [We] critique one another’s beers. I was volunteering for him and he asked me if I would mind working three days out of the week. Eventually, he asked me if I would like to come on full time. I get paid to do a hobby, I don’t work. I haven’t worked for over a year. It’s great!