Meet Josh Burns, KBC’s newest Assistant Brewer! Josh has an interesting background in many trades and comes to KBC from the Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) Brewing Science and Brewing Operations program. We’re super excited to have his help and expertise on the production floor. Read on to get to know more about Josh and his history of brewing!
Where are you from, and how’d you get to Kalispell?
J: I’m originally from the Bitteroot Valley. I wasn’t born there, but I’ve lived there my whole life. I was there until I was 18, then joined the Army. I came back 3 years later and went to school in Missoula for welding, where I met my wife. I was passionate about being a welder, it was something that always interested me. I quickly learned how to use all of the equipment, and we were also taught about the health and safety aspect of the job. When using welding equipment, we were taught that it was vital to always wear welding head protection to ensure that none of the sparks could hurt you. It was a passion of mine for the longest time, but I soon decided that I needed a fresh start. We moved to Billings after that for more school (thanks to the G.I. bill) for automotive technology, and after realizing that wasn’t what I wanted to do professionally, we moved back up to the Flathead Valley once I heard about the brewing program at FVCC. My wife’s family is from up here, too, so it worked out.
What’s your history with brewing beer?
J: I was a homebrewer first. I picked it up a year before going to school when I got a bunch of free equipment from my wife’s uncle. I just started doing it then, and really enjoyed it. Actually, when I first got out of the Army I wanted to go to brewing school at that time, but there wasn’t anything available locally so I just thought to myself “eh, it’s just a dream, it’ll never happen.” My wife really talked me into applying to the program.
What was the first beer you brewed, and was it successful?
J: I want to say it was a Dunkel from a Brewers Best box kit, and honestly it wasn’t that great. My first GOOD beer didn’t actually happen until I started the school, when I really knew what I was doing. I brewed an Irish Extra Stout that I was really happy with.
Any majorly failed experiments or surprises?
J: I once made a hard cider and added way too much honey. I think I used Champagne yeast. It ended up fermenting out to 14%. I only realized that after I tasted it for the first time. I actually really liked it, it was basically a fruit juice with some mead characteristics, it was pretty good, but not what I was going for.
What’s your favorite beer to drink besides KBC beer?
J: That’s a tough one. Ever since I went to school, all of my beer preferences changed as I gained a better understanding of styles and flavors. I really like Belgian Ales or Saisons. Deschutes makes a Saison (Cultivateur Provision Saison) that is barrel aged in white wine barrels with brett. It’s earthy and has the Saison floral and lots of sour flavors. The more complex the beer, the better.
You can find Josh helping Cole and Tyler on the production floor part-time while he finishes up the FVCC brewers program this spring.