Jamie Floyd is a renaissance man and one of the busiest people in craft beer. He founded Ninkasi Brewing along with Nikos Ridge back in 2006 and it has fast become one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest and fastest growing breweries. Jamie’s not only the face of Ninkasi – he’s also a tireless advocate for the industry and involved in all kinds of things. He currently sits on the Brewer’s Association Technical Committee and is a Great American Beer Festival World Beer Cup and Home Brew Judge – and serves on the Oregon Brewers Guild Board.
Clearly this dude is crazy busy. That’s why we were surprised when Mr. Floyd kindly agreed to make time for us…. And we repaid his graciousness by wasting his time with…5 STUPID QUESTIONS.
1) Ninkasi is one of the most reputable and accomplished craft breweries in the Pacific Northwest. And as its founder you could be talking with any number of “credible” journalists. So, why in the world did you ever agree to be profiled by us? You’re a smart man…What the hell were you thinking?
The first time I met Tom, I was amazed by his gritty and passionate Hunter S. Thompson persona for beer. Some folks you just want to have a conversation with. He is one of them. I am a nerd and it is cool to meet other nerds who have their own angle. Now here I am.
2) You’re originally from California right? So how did you get from “there” to brewing craft beer up in Eugene, Oregon? You didn’t get into some kind of trouble did you? This wasn’t a “witness protection” kind of thing – was it?
Well, if I had ever gotten caught in Cupertino, where I grew for making prison style hooch out of Tree Top Apple Juice Concentrate and Fleischman Baking Yeast in my friends Brian’s hidden attic spot during the summer of our 15th year on the planet… then maybe witness protection would have been needed. We got away with it and there began my first fermentations on the amateur side.
Shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake, that rocked 6 miles from my house and stopped the world series, I knew my decision to got to Eugene and become an Oregon Duck was a good one. I started home brewing with a friend when I was 17 and all through college where I eventually picked up a Sociology Degree. Shortly after that, I got hired as a Kitchen Manager at Steelhead, which led to me becoming an assistant brewer there, where I worked for 11 years before Ninkasi.
3)Tell us about Ninkasi Brewing – what’s your business and brewing philosophy? Is there an essential characteristic that you think defines what you do and the beers that you produce?
Initially, we characterized our philosophy in three words: Perpetuate Better Living. It has core resonance to us as a community.
This part of our Job Overview in our Jobs Posting sums it up concisely:
All members of the Ninkasi community are expected to positively contribute to our culture of continuous improvement through intentional focus on the following objectives:
Everyone leaves work as good or better when they arrived.
Relentlessly eliminating waste positively impacts our customers, our environment and ourselves.
Best Customer Experience
Our efforts transfer the maximum value to our customers.
We keep checks on our culture through our Core Values:
At Ninkasi, we take our core values very seriously. All team members are expected to embrace and embody these values each and every day:
Quality output in everything we do.
Creative pursuit of mastery.
Integrity in our actions.
Successful integration of work and life.
We engage the world and our customers by making and selling beer and having a lot of fun while we do it. We have our own metal shop, do our own art and marketing, and even have a music studio so we love to share the good moments in life and have a beer.
4) How many year-round and seasonal beers does Ninkasi currently brew? And what’s your take on collaborations and special releases?
We have 5 flagship beers including two new ones, Helles Belles Helles Lager and Easy Way IPA, that we sell year round, and we also have Seasonals and Special Releases. Spring Reign Pale Ale is our current seasonal. And Hop Cooler, an orange and tangerine IPA, out now as a Special Release. We are super excited to start off 2016 with new beers to share.
We’ve also done many collaborations…
Currently we have one with the Cascade Brewers Society (CBS), our local home brew club for the KLCC Beer Festival that’s held here in Eugene every February. This Eugene-wide collaboration has been going on for 20 years and features all the local breweries along with friends.
This year we split into teams of 2 and also picked a spice out of hat, iron chef style. We were the host, and with CBS drew ginger as our spice. We made a beer we are calling Gingersnap Brown that has a Brown Ale base with ginger, molasses, brown sugar, and cinnamon meant to replicate a ginger snap.
And for fun, we also fired up our 20 gallon pilot system and made a small batch Belgian Golden Strong Ale with Ginger. We are going to carb that up and serve it in the brewer’s lounge of the festival – and offer Gingersnap Brown to everyone. There will be 10 team beers at this year’s event.
Ninkasi will also be hosting the KLCC Home Brew Competition along with Falling Sky Brewery. The competition is something that Jason Carrier and I started, that has been going on for about 12 years now – and he winners will be awarded at the festival Saturday night.
5) Everyone has a “house beer”- a beer that’s a staple at home – What’s yours?
On the light side I have been drinking Expo 58 and Helles Belles. On the hoppy side Dawn of the Red and Hop Cooler, though I drink most of my pints at our Tasting Room which is 3 blocks from my home. Living walking distance to the brewery cuts back on my house beers, but it does allow for me to have some of my friend’s beers that are always fun to share with guests.