Most brewers can go their entire lives without winning a medal from either of the world’s most prestigious beer competitions – the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and the World Beer Cup (WBC). But in the short span of just slightly more than three years as Head Brewer and Co-Owner at Artifex Brewing Company, Johnny Johur has won medals in both.
Artifex Brewing Company opened to the public on August 4th, 2014. The word Artifex is a Latin word for an artisan or craftsman; someone who carries out work that requires a certain specialty or skill.
Since their opening, Artifex Brewing and Head Brewer Johnny Johur have steadily received recognition in the professional brewing community through their competition awards.
- In 2015 the Artifex team won two medals at the San Diego International Beer Festival (a Bronze Medal for “Bog Trotter” Irish Red and a Gold Medal for “Dark Helmet” Schwarzbier).
- In 2016 the Artifex team won a WBC Silver Medal for “HoliDAVE” Imperial Stout. You can read about that win by clicking here.
- And then this year, the Artifex team won a GABF Bronze Medal for “Artifexican” lager while competing against 92 other entries in the American-Style Cream Ale Category.
My Conversation with Johnny Johur
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Johnny Johur since Artifex opened. Sitting down with Johnny to ask about this year’s GABF competition and learning even more about him was exciting for me.
Tell me about your brewing background.
I was fortunate enough to get my start at Pizza Port (specifically Solana Beach) learning from some of the most knowledgeable brewers around. After a few years with the Port crew I took a spot with Mother Earth Brewing Co and spent 2 years out in Vista absorbing as much as possible about production brewing. I feel lucky to have spent time at both a small-scale brewing facility as well as a production brewing facility. Both experiences helped to create and shape Artifex Brewing Company.
How many beers did Artifex enter into GABF this year? Which ones?
We entered the max amount a brewery was allowed to enter which was 4 beers. Our entries were:
“The Seagull Has Landed” – an IPA
“Artifexit” – an English IPA
“Bog Trotter” – an Irish Red
“Artifexican” – a Mexican Lager
What originally inspired you to brew Artifexican?
My go to non craft beer is Pacifico. It’s a classic for me. Brings back lots of fond memories. I wanted to brew something in homage to all the great times I’ve shared with Pacifico.
Describe Artifexican and how it’s made.
Artifexican is a very basic recipe….Pilsner malt, flaked corn and a tiny bit of acid malt. 4.3% and 9.5 IBUs. This is a 6-week beer from start to finish which produces a clean, crisp and crushable Lager. We plate and frame filter the beer so that it’s as bright as can be. It pours a straw, clear pale yellow and drinks with an effervescent carbonation.
What’s it like to be a brewer competing in and attending GABF?
I’ve attended multiple GABFs with both Pizza Port and Mother Earth Brewing Co. Being able to represent Artifex the last 3 years, and finally taking home some hardware is one of the best experiences of my life. We have a great crew representing our brand and ideals. It’s an honor to get to head out to Denver and promote Artifex Brewing Company.
Did you taste any of your competitor’s beers (specifically in the American-Style Cream Ale competition category)?
Other than winning a medal, what was your favorite thing about attending this year’s GABF?
It’s always great to spend time with fellow brewers and beer lovers. The camaraderie that is showcased over those few days is like none other and is truly inspiring. Not too mention…all the great local beer! Colorado is making some of the best beer in the country.
Did you have any GABF-related bets going with San Clemente’s other breweries this year?
No bets this year. We actually had Trevor Walls, a Brewer from previous years of betting, tag along with the Artifex contingent this year.
And we were beyond happy that our neighbors Left Coast/Oggis Brewing took home a medal this year too. We love seeing San Clemente and OC getting some national and global recognition. There are world-class breweries all over this county and region. It’s nice to see them get some time in the spotlight.
In the short time since you won the GABF medal, have you noticed any difference in customer/business interest in Artifex?
Well, Artifexican sold out pretty quick! We’ve got a batch Lagering now and purchased a 60bbl vessel that we will brew into so that we can keep Artifexican around consistently.
What is your Artifex AND non-Artifex desert island beer?
Artifex: Artifexican Mexican Lager
Non Artifex: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
What’s in the works for future beers at Artifex?
We are always excited to experiment and brew new styles, as well as old and established classics. We’ve been having some fun with the NE IPA’s and it’s getting into the fall and winter months which means you’ll see some darker beers coming down the line (“Hoppy Colada”, Imperial Stout, maybe even “Dark Helmet”).
A big THANK YOU to Johnny Johur for spending some time with me and answering my questions.