The story of John Garner is that of a dream realized. John started out as a home brewer and worked his way up to HEAD brewer at the renowned New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach. Learn more about John in this months I AM SC BEER Profile.
1. What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
Head Brewer at New South Brewing. I got my start homebrewing. I brewed several batches in the early 90’s and ended up moving out to California after college. I moved to SC and found the hobby again a few years later. I became obsessed with the hobby (like so many do) and read everything I could get my hands on. There weren’t many home brewers or craft beer enthusiasts in Myrtle Beach at the time, but I met the guys at New South and started bugging them, and I also started a website and sought to unite all good beer drinkers in the area. I helped start the local home brew club MASH and eventually became the craft beer writer for our local entertainment tabloid (The Weekly Surge). I ended up collaborating with New South on one of my home brew recipes, an Imperial Stout, which has gone on to become an annual seasonal. Once I heard that New South’s longtime Head Brewer was leaving, I told the owner/brewmaster, David Epstein, that I was interested in the job. I ended up being offered the job and got to leave my desk job.
2. What ties you to the State of South Carolina? What’s your SC backstory?
I moved around a lot as a kid. I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, went to college in North Carolina and moved out west after graduating. I moved to SC in 2001, after spending 6 years in Los Angeles working as a graphic designer, out of college. I’ve lived in South Carolina longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. My parents moved to SC in the mid-nineties and I fell in love with the area after flying back and forth from the west coast to visit.
3. What’s the new happenings at your brewery?
We usually have around 14 offerings on tap at the brewery, but the majority of these beers are never available outside the tasting room. A few months ago, we acquired two 5-barrel tanks that we’ve started using to get some of our small batches out to the public. We moved several barrels of our Dark Star Porter to one of the new tanks and added fresh, locally roasted coffee. We were able to send out several sixtels of our coffee porter, Morning Dew, to some accounts and it’s been a huge hit. Next up, we are going to get some of our popular Dry-Hopped Lager out on the market.
4. What are some of your favorite things to do outside of your work?
We have a two-year-old at home who is currently keeping my wife and I extremely busy. Other than chasing a toddler around the house, I enjoy smoking meats and expanding my palate to the subtleties of fine bourbons and other whiskeys.
5. What’s your biggest brewing related accomplishment or feeling of achievement?
As a homebrewer, I was able to scale up my imperial stout recipe to commercial size and brew it at New South and it has become a staple at the brewery. I also won a homebrew contest at Liberty Brewery and Grill with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. I think that those two things helped me attain my greatest brewing accomplishment – being offered the opportunity to join the team at New South and become a professional brewer.
6. What’s your biggest accomplishment or proudest moment outside of your brewery job?
It is probably pretty liché to say the birth of a child, but I waited 41 years to become a dad. So, I’m pretty damn proud of her – and of my wife and I for not losing our minds or breaking any bones in the child-rearing process.
7. What’s your favorite meal to pair with which beer?
Steamed oysters paired with our Dark Star Porter – the ultimate South Carolina cold weather meal.
8. What’s your favorite beer brewed by your place and why?
I’d have to say my favorite beer brewed by New South is our IPA. It is a completely unique IPA – not like any I’ve ever had before. It’s not a West Coast or East Coast IPA – it has a rather complex grain bill that uses three different base malts. It’s kind of an English-style IPA that uses a ton of delicious American hops. We’ve played around with the hops on this one, but the way the “C” hops play with the Maris Otter make this beer stand apart. I still enjoy a simple West Coast-style IPA, but the complexity of our IPA will always keep me interested and coming back for another pint.
9. What would be your dream beer related trip?
I would love to do a beer tour of Europe. Of course Belgium, but also Germany and the Czech Republic. I love a fresh, hoppy Czech Pilsner and would love to see the lagering caves of Pilsner Urquell. The bready, subtle spiciness of a Munich Helles enjoyed at a Bavarian bier garden and no trip would be complete without a tour of Cantillon and sipping lambic in its birthplace.