Jason Santamaria is a Beer Architect, a somewhat unusual title. He is the president and one of the co-founders of one of Atlanta’s newest players in the Craft Beer scene, Second Self Beer Company. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the brewery at their location on the West Side of Atlanta, and got to know how exactly he and Chris Doyle, “The Alechemist”, were building.
Chris and Jason have been brewing together since 2005. Jason comes from a culinary family and he claims that this background is part of the reason he felt a connection to brewing craft beer. But for him, it wasn’t just about making the best version of a beer that many others were already producing, it was about making something entirely different.
The first beer that Jason and Chris produced and took to brewing competitions, was a Red Hop Rye. The problem was, it didn’t exactly fit into any particular beer category. Essentially, they combined elements from three different beer categories: Red Ale, IPA, and Rye Wheat beer, and came up with a new style of beer. For Jason, “it’s a perfect example of American ingenuity in beer.” This is Second Self’s beer philosophy. They are constantly working to create beers that have never been thought of or heard of; sophisticated not just in structure or flavor, but in concept as well.
Jason has even introduced international cuisines to American craft beer. Second Self’s “Thai Wheat” was inspired by Jason’s travels to Thailand in 2010. He took cooking classes while there and learned about a tradition spice blend, “well, technically a tea,” he said, that is now the base of the beer. They use fresh lemongrass and ginger, which is something you would never find in a traditional wheat beer. He mentioned that it took about 100 iterations to perfect this drink.
This kind of detail-oriented production is what is needed to make the type of beers that Jason envisions: Beers that are able to pair with a multitude of cuisines and flavors. Beers that are not too overbearing, but that still maintain a complexity of flavor that make them a delight to drink on their own. Jason talks about beer as a sophisticated sommelier would talk about wine, and there’s a reason for that. “Wine’s been at the dinner table too long and beer needs to have its place too,” he says.
I believe Second Self is creating a new space within American Craft Beer that is doing just that; it asks for a spot at the dinner table based on its merit and thoughtfulness, and I believe the beers Second Self is producing deserves that spot. So does renowned Atlanta-based Puerto Rican Chef, Hector Santiago, which is why you will see Second Self beers alongside our amazing menu of expertly prepared Puerto Rican dishes at Destination Puerto Rico (by the way, I am partial to the Mole Porter). Any beer with as much insight, enterprise, and creativity behind it as the ones Jason and Chris painstakingly draw the blueprints for, build and perfect, is sure to bring not just beer, but any dining experience, up to a whole new level.
~ By Virginia Spinks, intern at Go Eat Give. Virginia is a senior at Emory University majoring in religion and anthropology. As an Atlanta native, she has grown up around many different cultures and cuisines, and has always had a passion for food. She views food as an experience: a point of connection to bring people together and create lasting memories.