By Jim Nowlan
Wyoming native Brian Buss is living his dream job as “Head Brewer” at the new Industry Brewing Co. in Pioneer Park, in Peoria. “I’m very passionate about brewing,” says 1998 Stark County High grad Buss, “and I love the technology, art, biology and creativity behind brewing.”
Brian has moved from home brewing extract kits to his first-ever commercial brewing post, and Brian is having a ball, if you can count some 12 to 16-hour days a ball?
The News visited Industry Brewing recently and found Brian adding hops to the boiling “wort” in one of the several huge, gleaming kettles in the craft brewery. A little later we watch Brian start the cleansing process at one of the four 15-barrel fermentation vessels. (A barrel equals 31 gallons.)
“Two keys to successful brewing are sanitation and fermentation,” explains Brian, as he hooks up the hoses to the vessels.
The News asks Brian about the process
In a nutshell, malted barley and water make a mash that produces wort, which is boiled. Hops are added at different stages depending on the style of beer being brewed. “Hops vary a great deal,” explains Brian, always pleasant and professional. “Hops are used for bitterness. However, they are also used for flavor and aroma and can have earthy, citrus, even pine forest tastes to them.” The hopped wort then goes into fermentation vessels, where oxygen and yeast are added.
The beer ferments at varying temperatures, again according to the style of beer being brewed. And after 17 to 21 days, again depending on, well, you’ve heard it already. And voila, Brian has produced any of the nine beers plus rootbeer on draft at the brewery-restaurant.
Stark County connection in brewing process
Brian was a year behind Lance Shaner at Stark County High. Lance is head of his successful start-up, Omega Yeast, in Chicago. Brian has reached out to his old friend for some of Omega’s yeasts. They communicate frequently where Lance has helped Brian adjust to fermenting on a large scale.
Spouse Amber very supportive
Brian says his wife Amber has been a big proponent of his in shifting from jobs he has held in the Information Technology world since earning a degree in multi-media from Illinois Central College.
And Brian appreciates her support a great deal, as he knows he is taking a bit of a risk, jumping into a new career.
An Air Force “brat,” who had spent time in Italy, UK, and bases in Ohio, and South Dakota, and is a Richwoods High grad, Amber teaches adults with disabilities.
Brian’s reputation as a terrific brewer included good reports when he was asked by Matt Rixner, owner of Peoria’s Fox Pub, to do his first craft beer festival a few years ago.
That and other good word-of-mouth about Brian and his beers brought him together with Travis Mohlenbrink, owner of popular Peoria restaurants Thyme, Sugar, Cayenne and Cracked Pepper.
Mohlenbrink wanted to try a warm, rustic, inviting casual brew pub. The result is Industry Brewing Co., on Hale Road just north of Pioneer Parkway and just west of Knoxville in north Peoria.
Brian’s beers range from a light, German-style Kolsch to a coffee stout. He will be trying many other beers in the future.
The inventive pub-grub menu at Industry Brewing Co. includes appetizers of black bean hummus and sloppy joe nachos. There is a BLT flatbread and seven-layer salad, to pick a couple of items new to The News.
Sandwiches include a horseshoe, vegetarian Philly, burgers and DIY kits called Weenie Roast and S’mores. The S’more and Hot Dog kits can be purchased for use with Industry Brewing Co. outdoor fire pits.
There is a game room with ping pong and more, a private room for parties, and a really comfy, barn wood-paneled main bar and restaurant and open brewing room.
The News sampled the Kolsch: light, dry, quite approachable for any diner. I left the coffee stout for others, but there is sure something for everyone. Plus wines and cocktails.
Drop by Industry Brewing Co. and say “Hi” to Brian, who is among his gleaming vessels much of the time. And tell’em The News sent me.