Misson started working for German brewmaster Stefan Muhs, who had managed to install a classically traditional German lager brewhouse in the Action Park waterpark in Vernon Valley, a strange marriage of teenage thrills and thoroughly sophisticated beer. "We were putting out half-liter swingtops of unfiltered, organic-ingredient lagers, brewed to strict Reinheitsgebot standards," Misson recalled. It was a 30 hectoliter brewhouse, with open wooden fermenters, wooden casks, and an open, tower-style wort chiller.I tasted those beers twice: once at an early Brickskeller tasting of American craft beers with Michael Jackson, who lavished praise on them, and once at Action Park in the late 1980s. Both times I was impressed, though the Action Park beers were served ice-cold, something Jay was never happy about.
"Everything was done the hard way, the Reinheitsgebot way," Misson said with a wry grin. "It was a great place to learn, because you HAD to be clean, especially with that open chiller. We grew up all our yeast from slants, we even made our own culture medium, and we cultured lactic acid to acidify the malt."
I told Jay about something (Hyde Park Brewing's) John Eccles told me once. "Ales!" John said. "I could teach a chimp to make ales. You have to know what you’re doing to make lagers." I asked Misson if John had heard him say that (when Jay was training him at Mountain Valley brewpub).Attitude, and lagers. One more quote:
"No, he didn’t get that quote from me," Misson laughed, a big laugh. Then he smiled. "But the attitude – yeah, that he got from me."
I was relaxing after the meal with head brewer Jay Misson and part-owner Brian Fitting; Fitting was telling me how they kept getting inquiries about bottling their beer. “They just don’t get it,” said Misson, waving a dismissive hand. “It’s a brewpub. We make beer here, people drink it here. That’s what we do. That’s all we do.”Passionate to the last. Fare well, Jay, auf wiederseh'n.