My interview to Mike Murphy from Lervig Aktiebryggeri. The main topics? IPA, Stout and the best brew of the world.
Mike Murphy is a well known person in the craft beer environment. Owner and brewer at the Lervig Aktiebryggeri, he is famous for being a great collaboration brewer. His sociability is embedded in his DNA: born in America, grown up in Italy and established in Norway. I met him at the LCBF 2015. There was no chance for me to miss the opportunity for having him to participate an interview. What did we talk about? Have a look!
Hi Mike! You moved from Philadelphia (USA) to Rome in the 1999. In Italy it is said that ‘IPA is Leonardo di Vincenzo’s fault‘. But Leo started working under your wings. Could we state that IPA is YOUR fault?
Ipa’s we’re inevitable, I just happened to like them and miss them when I got to Italy, if I didn’t make them someone else would have. But being before the curve gives me more credit than I deserve for it. In Italy that is, I had been enjoying IPA’s since the early 90s in the US.
Long time ago, talking about Italy, you claimed that ‘at least 70% of microbreweries produce terrible beer’. Do you think that the Italian craft beer movement is still terrible?
Yes that’s true, lots of bad beers or mediocre beers where there, however the movement was strong, Italian’s have a craving for crafted foods and wines, why would their beer be any different? Today I find a lot of great beers from a lot of great brewers from Tocco Malto (Toccalmatto, ndr.) to Loverbeer. All styles and unique types of beers. The craft beer culture has hit its stride in Italy.
You have collaborated globally: Magic Rock, Mikkeller, Nøgne Ø, Lindheim, Evil Twin, Birra del Borgo, Boneyard, Loverbeer. And who knows how many others. I think that the brewing industry is funny because, compared to others, there is still a hint of humanity. What is your point of view about collaborating within the beer industry?
Collaboration is a way for brewers in the craft beer world to show their customers who their friends are, its like having a brand partner, its sharing each other’s markets and getting a cross over to each others areas. Sharing ideas and having fun. Collabs, are a fun way to express ourselves in this ever competitive and creative industry.
GB Porter ranked as the best Porter in the world in the 2008. At the same time you were also brewing the best Stout in the world ( Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Breakfast), according to Ratebeer. In 2010 a collaboration brew with seven Danish brewers won the World Beer Cup as Imperial Stout. What does make you so successful with dark beers? passion, flavours, alcohol or what?
Well I’d say its all of the above, you can’t make a great beer without passion, good ingredients etc. But to really make a good stout/porter you have to have the right touch. Its not too hard once you get the formula correct. I tend to like making stouts/porters with a huge OG, lots of Chocolate and roasted malts, I go for a brown foam and high FG as well.
Lucky Jack (APA) has been the Norway’s first canned craft beer. You said that ‘cans are the future’. Why, in your opinion?
Cans are a much better storage vessel than a bottle for many reasons we all know. Everyone has their position on that. Im not a traditionalist here, I like a can for the ease to carry them around and they can be printed 360 graphically as well. Cans are coming up fast in most countries. In fact we have launched 3 new cans this month.
Norway has the highest alcohol taxation in the world. How is it possible to compete successfully in a market where beers coming from the other side of the world (America) cost less than the local ones?
Alcohol tax is taken for sales so it doesn’t affect the costs on our exports, however Norway is a high cost country which does affect our costs: we have to import everything in the beer other than the amazing water we have here.
Inside the brewery it is written ‘Vi skal brygge verdens beste øl’ (‘we want to brew the world’s best beer’). Is this Mike Murphy’s mission? what beer do you think will be the right one to achieve the goal?
I am always trying to make a better beer. It’s not easy to do and it’s impossible to judge what the best beer in the world is. To be the best is relative to the drinker. There is no best, only great!
Jolly question: what is your favorite hop and why?
Hard question, I love a lot of the new variety hops coming from around the world, but still my favorate all time hop probably a toss up between Chinook or Centennial.
You know what? Speaking with Mike Murphy made me more curious than ever regarding Norway and Lervig beers. I have to prepare myself: it will be cold in there!
Did you know Mike Murphy? what do you think about Lervig Brewery? have you tried its beers?