A Brewer Profile of Boom Island’s Kevin Welch
By Joe Alton
Name: Kevin Welch
Hometown: Joiner, Arkansas
Works at: Boom Island Brewing Company
2207 North 2nd St, Mpls, MN 55411
Being Multi-lingual; Being Active
Growler: What’s in your fridge right now?
Kevin Welch: Rodenbach Grand Cru and a traditional Gueuze Lambic.
G: What’s your favorite music to brew to?
KW: French Impressionist Composers: Debussy, Ravel and Erik Satie
G: What keeps you inspired?
KW: Having a fan try Silvius for the first time and respond, “The last time I had that type of beer was in Antwerp!” It has actually happened several times. What a beautiful city to visit and enjoy a great Belgian Pale Ale!
G: What would you be doing if you weren’t brewing?
KW: I would still be living my other dream which was (and still is from time to time) playing French Horn with MN Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra or with any of the other world class classical ensembles in this great metro area.
G: Who has been your biggest individual influence in brewing?
KW: I am very sorry, but I really can’t name just one. I had a very special opportunity to learn and brew alongside several of my personal heros in the world of Belgian brewing over the couple of summers that my wife, Qiuxia, and I spent in the country. They are all so incredibly inspiring and each in their own individual way. One thread linked them all together though, brewing is always treated as a fine art. When engaged in a conversation on brewing, the voice of the Belgian brewers always becomes very poetic and passionate in nature. This connected very strongly with my passion for brewing, as well as my background in classical music.
G: Where is your favorite place to put one back?
KW: The great Brussels brasserie, La Mort Subite. One of the few places one can get really, really special sours on draft.
G: What is biggest misconception about your line of work?
KW: Cleaning is 90% of the job. Making Minnesota craft beer is the fun part, but we really spend most of the time cleaning tanks, hoses, pumps, heat exchangers, etc.
G: When did you discover craft beer?
KW: I first discovered craft beer 17 years ago when I went to the music conservatory in Cleveland. Great Lakes Brewing Company was still pretty new and I became a fan very quickly.
G: When did you decide you wanted to brew professionally?
KW: That decision came about 6 years ago when my wife, Qiuxia, and I returned to the U.S. after living in China for a year. I spent that year teaching her father to brew and making some really fun and exotic Minnesota craft beer with locally sourced spices and grains. We had already decided to spend some time in Belgium to continue learning and realizing my inspiration and dreams.
Photos by Joe Alton