This week's guest is the stuff of legend—Tomme Arthur, the founder and brewmaster of Lost Abbey. He's a brewer associated with both San Diego’s hop-forward dominance in craft beer, but also the world of barrel-aged Saison and Belgian-inspired farmhouse beers that continue to carve out a niche amongst the geekiest of beer drinkers in the U.S. And Tomme continues to impress both of these highly critical audiences.
But Tomme's also a big part of the future. His voice carries weight. His opinions matter to the next generation. And his expectations only seem to get higher for others, not to mention himself.
I first met Tomme when we helped judge the Brewbound Start-up Brewery Challenge in San Diego. Later, we'd meet up again, this time in Belgium at Brasserie Dupont when GBH was there filming our mini-documentary about Saison Dupont. We also were lucky enough to document the historic collaboration between Tomme and Olivier Dedeycker, Dupont’s fourth-generation owner, that occurred that day. On the site, we described that collaboration as "punching a hole in time." As hyperbolic as that might seem, to the people involved that day, it barely served to capture the feeling.
So when Tomme came to town for the Windy City Expo, an annual showcase with his distributor parter here, we decided to get together at the Hopleaf, a place that’s supported Lost Abbey from its early days, and have a conversation with a small group of fans in the upstairs bar. We also had some bottles from the cellar that Michael Roper was kind enough to share —and drink—with us.
Here, we dig into Tomme’s origin story, San Diego then and now, brand, portfolio, and barrel-management, and at least a dozen other things. Plus, we had a great Q+A at the end with the folks in the room.