Interview with a Brewmaster: Liz Chism, Council Brewing
Beautiful, confident and driven, Liz Chism is a brewmaster woman to know and admire. She grew up in a family of artisans and entrepreneurs, and now blazes brewing ground with her painstakingly crafted beers.
She and husband/co-owner Curtis began drinking craft beer in their days of courtship. After marriage, they embarked on brewing for themselves.
“I grew up in a family where we made everything ... as in grinding wheat berries to make flour,” Chism said. “So I thought, ‘Yeah, why not?’ Why would I stop short and not try to make beer?”
But the magic didn’t happen on their first beer.
“It was an extract beer, and it felt a little like cheating,” she said. “We thought, ‘This was fun, but let’s actually MAKE beer.’ We began brewing all grain immediately and caught the bug.”
They began entering competitions, and at the San Diego County Fair, they won first place for their pale ale, (now Gavel Drop), and honorable mention in the best of show category.
They sold their house and opened Council Brewing as 100 percent owners in June of 2014 and have exploded in business, including an expansion in production from 16 to 31 taps. Their beers range from gold, pale ale, and IPAs to Belgian dubbels, tripels, and sours.
My personal favorite is her Beatitude line of sours, including the Mango Tart Saison, a wonderfully refreshing and perfect sunny day beer, and the Black Currant Saison, a wonderful foray into the fruit and flavor profile, and one you just want to swirl and sniff like a glass of fine cabernet (black currant is a primary fruit aroma of the cabernet grape).
Their second anniversary on June 11 celebrates all they have accomplished. Liz is particularly excited about the law that went into effect Jan. 1 that allows breweries to extend their license beyond their doors four times a year. This gives small outfits and their tasting rooms the ability to host events, (like anniversary parties and special releases) and serve their beers outside and inside. Win!
Q: How old were you when you took your first drink?
A: 21. (smiles) My parents are teetotalers.
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
A: I was a sign language interpreter. I would be working within the deaf community.
Q: If you could have one superpower?
A: I feel like I already have some opening a business (laughs). Flying. There are a lot of places I’d like to see and explore.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
A: Finding joy in every situation. The flip side of that is not getting stressed over little things.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: Irony. I laugh at myself when I do something stupid.
Q: Greatest honor?
A: When people come in and they are genuinely excited and appreciate the hard work I’ve put into brewing beer ... when they say “Wow.”
Q: One wish?
A: To make a big difference in the lives of each one of my employees.
Q: Favorite vacation spot?
A: Camping in the Sierras
Q: Deserted island music?
A: I don’t listen to music. I could go silence.
Q: What is your personal mantra?
A: Glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Q: If you could invite three people living or dead to dinner, who would they be?
A: Great Grandma, my husband, Jesus.
Q: Your last meal on earth?
A: Homemade carne asada burrito with flour tortillas, cilantro rice, pico de gallo, guac and chips ... and a margarita.
With 18 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 850 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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