Many folks will remember Josiah Moody as the head brewmaster at Vino’s Brewpub before he became the force behind his own Moody Brews. A travelling brewer of sorts, Moody has spent time sharing brew space with the Oklahoma-based Choc Brewery, and locally with Damgoode Pies at their River Market location. Most recently he’s found himself back at Vino’s. In today’s Q & A Moody talks – what else – all-things-beer.
Where are you from, and ultimately, how did you end up brewing beer?
That’s a long answer actually. I’m from Oklahoma, originally. I grew up on a cattle farm in the middle of nowhere. We moved to Fayetteville when I was in the 7th grade, and then I ended up in Hot Springs for high school. After high school, I went to UCA (B.S. in Economics), and worked summers at a YMCA conference center just outside of Asheville. Through their exchange program I got to intern at Jerusalem international YMCA and the Tokyo YMCA during successive summers.
After graduate school at the University of South Carolina (Masters in International Relations, Human Rights Law), I spent a full year at Blue Ridge. No jobs could be found, so I went back to school at UCA for biology, where I got my second masters before going to UAMS for med school in 2009 … but that only lasted for one year. I promptly exited and at that time I was home brewing all the time. My neighbor and mentor, Richard Rasmussen, is a crazy genius and he taught me a lot.
How did the opportunity to start Moody Brews come about?
I love the idea of brewing beer – I guess I have a love of hard labor. In 2009 I had been picking up extra shifts at Colonial Wine and Spirits to pay rent as well as brewing at Vino’s. Thanks to the network I developed at Colonial with some of the distributors I was able to start brewing in Oklahoma with the Choc Brewery in 2014. I’ve been a ‘gypsy’ brewer ever since.
How did you decide to brew your first commercial Moody Brews beer, the Half Seas Over?
It was always in the back of my mind to have my own line, but at that point the real questions was, “What am I going to make?” I was thinking about the very best beers I had made, and even though the Half Seas Over was based on a beer made at Vino’s, it was completely new because some of the grain wasn’t available. The topaz really makes that beer in my opinion. I had a tasting at Colonial after it came out and it was huge. I was so happy and excited that people liked it.
Talk to me about the business side of Moody Brews.
It’s just me. Part of it is the work behind the beer, actually brewing and all that. But then you have to think about more of the business side, everything down to how the labels look. I wanted something new, something more minimal and black and white. My sister helped me with those. … But in terms of being a company without a brewing hub … it just means that I’m able to get creative. For instance, Vino’s brewing assistant recently quit, so we’ve created a sort of a partnership deal while I work towards getting my alternate proprietorship license. I can distribute beer I make under the Vino’s license, but it’s legally Vino’s beer. … So, I am putting a few kegs out here and there, mostly to keep the brand going until I get that license, hopefully in 4 months. I’m also currently training Hunter Tackett to take over here at Vino’s.
Do you have a favorite type of beer?
Funnily enough, making IPAs is a huge pain in the a**. It’s definitely not my favorite. I suppose I like to drink Saison/Farmhouse ales. It’s actually really fun for me to come up with a hoppy farmhouse brew. In fact, it’ll probably be an annual thing I do, each year with a different hop profile.
What do you think about the local brew scene?
It’s completely changing under our feet. Every six months we’ve got a different landscape out there. It’s cool to see that the town can support as big of a project as Lost 40. … People are really learning and getting familiar with craft beer. It almost has to continue to expand, though, to get better. There’s still a lot of people we have to convert, yet.
What are your favorite beer cities to visit?
Asheville. Also, Philadelphia has some great gems. Tired Hands really blew me away last time I was up there.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Well, I go to Layla’s at least once a week. For date night we try to hit up the Pantry Crest. I also want to say that I play my guitar in my spare time, but honestly, … it’s more that [my wife and I] hang out with Aria, our daughter.