Fair State Brewing Cooperative Announces Jerrod Johnson, Former Head Brewer of Surly BC, as Director of Brewing Operations
It’s with great excitement that Fair State Brewing Cooperative welcomes Jerrod Johnson, formerly Head Brewer of Surly BC, as the new Director of Brewing Operations at FSBC. In conjunction with Joe Wells, Fair State’s recently hired Lead Brewer, Jerrod will manage operations at the production facility in St. Paul, help develop new and exciting beers, and ensure the consistent execution of the current offerings.
Co-founder Niko Tonks is to remain Head Brewer. With a highly capable team in place at the St. Paul production facility, Niko will focus on recipe and project development at the original Minneapolis brewery, in addition to playing a continued key role in the cooperative’s overall strategy.
“To me, this is a watershed moment in Fair State history,” said Fair State Co-Founder & Head Brewer Niko Tonks. “I think it puts more people in the right places, to make the right decisions, to spur further growth and inventiveness not only in terms of barrels produced but in the chances we can take with our beers. My hope is that 2019 will be the best year in our short history, and I know that Jerrod will be an integral part of making that happen.”
Jerrod’s background in brewing is extensive. He began homebrewing in 2001 and shortly after, took a job as a line cook at Steelhead Brewing in Eugene. Oregon. He became friends with head brewer Jamie Floyd, who later founded Ninkasi brewing, and eventually became the assistant brewer and spent most of his college years cleaning kegs, helping proctor homebrew competitions and helping with other tasks around the brewery. After graduating with an English degree from the University of Oregon in 2004, Jerrod left the brewing industry to figure out what his ‘adult’ job would be. Within three months, he realized that brewing was the career he wanted to pursue. A passion and a curiosity for craft beer transformed into a career path.
In 2005 Jerrod took a job with Rogue Ales, cooking, bartending, and working events while he sought out a brewing job, specifically hoping to work under Van Havig (currently the founder of Gigantic Brewing) at Rock Bottom who he respected greatly and knew would help bring him to the next level. Jerrod happened to drop by Rock Bottom again to see if Van had a job for him. Coincidentally, he was interviewing someone else when Jerrod walked in the door. After he finished the interview, Jerrod asked him, “how’d the interview go?” He said, “Terrible. By the way, are you still looking for a job?” Jerrod worked with Van over the next two years. He was a strict, detail-oriented head brewer who never took shortcuts nor excuses. He considers him a great mentor and friend, his Obi-Wan Kenobi, but more short-tempered, less zen, and infinitely more swearing.
As a native North Dakotan with many relatives in Minnesota, Jerrod realized it was time to live closer to his family. He saw a post for a brewer job at Surly Brewing and soon became employee #6. Over the next ten years, Jerrod experienced constant growth with the company, including the transition of opening the destination brewery in Minneapolis. When the new brewery was close to opening, he requested to stay at the original brewery and keep things running smoothly there. He was lead brewer there for several years, then assumed the Head Brewer position at that location when Todd Haug left in 2016.
Fair State Coop is honored to welcome Jerrod to the team. Jerrod is an immensely talented brewer, and he will no doubt do a superlative job of managing Fair State Brewing Cooperative’s rapidly expanding operations.
“I am excited to work with Fair State for many reasons,” said Jerrod Johnson, Fair State Coop’s new Director of Brewing Operations. “First and most importantly, the beer. From the traditional lagers to more experimental beers, Fair State always executes at a high level. I want to make beer that I am proud of and want the world to drink. Second, Fair State has a spirit of giving and community that pervades everything they do. I love my neighborhood (NE Minneapolis) and I love Minneapolis, and Fair State is committed to both. I want my work to help my neighborhood become a better place. Third, I like the people who work at Fair State and am excited to work with them. Also, Roselle is one of my wife’s favorite beers, so she’s on board. Ultimately, Fair State makes great beer and I hope to help them continue to do so.”