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Pretty Dann, Pretty Martha..Pretty Things!!

Da Gianni Tacchini @villaggiobirra
Dann Paquette Martha Holley-Paquette

Dann Paquette began brewing shortly after he finished up journalism school in Boston. He felt driven to become a professional brewer and has dedicated his 20-plus year career to brewing both craft beer and real ale. After working at several (now closed) Boston-area breweries, he landed his first head brewer position at North East Brewing Company in Allston, Mass. Dann went on to become the head brewer of the Concord Brewing Company and launched Rapscallion, a brand of Belgian-style beers. Concord Brewing was eventually sold, and Dann moved on to The Tap brewpub in Haverhill, Mass. where he brewed an eclectic line up of beers for the brewpub for three years. During that time, he met Martha Holley. Together, they decided to move to Yorkshire, UK, where Dann brewed at Daleside brewery in Harrogate for three years and learned traditional real ale brewing. Most recently, Dann and Martha returned to the Boston area and started Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, which is based out of rented brewing space at Buzzards Bay Brewing in Westport, Mass. Dann is the head brewer and crafts each batch by hand, while the host brewery packages the beer. Dann spends the rest of his time at home in Somerville, Mass. working on beer formulation, label designs, and events.

Martha Holley-Paquette was educated at Cambridge University in the U.K. and has a Ph.D in microbiology. She moved to Boston in her twenties to pursue a research career and subsequently met Dann Paquette. Martha became yet another recruit to the brewing industry and started Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project with Dann in 2008. Martha has gradually moved away from science and became company director and assistant brewer in 2010. She divides her time between brewing with Dann and running the business operations of the brewery with the help of two full time Somerville-based employees. (Intro ©

Introducing Dann Paquette, the Pretty Things brewer, at #villaggio2014 . See also

dann paquetteAge? 45

How did you become a brewer? It was something I wanted to do since I was 18. Originally I went to college studying to be a journalist and pursued that briefly after school working in New York City. My creative side one out however because it wasn’t long before I moved to Boston to “become a brewer”. I think my first brewing job was at 23.

When did you have your beer epiphany? Somehow I always knew that there was something to beer. When I was a kid I collected bottle caps and beer cans that were thrown from cars. In the early 1970s it was relatively common for people to drink beer while they were driving or as passengers. The road near my family’s cottage was littered every Saturday and Sunday mornings and I was always curious why people drank many different kinds of beers. It sparked my imagination.

Who has been your brewing inspiration? There have been many people over the years. Originally it was Michael Jackson and his fabulous Beer Hunter tv series. Then it was actual brewers like Kris from De Dolle in Belgium. Believe it or not several years into my career I began to get a bit bored and a brewery like De Dolle was a revelation. My first visit to Belgium was in part because I couldn’t believe that Oerbier was made on purpose, not some beautiful mistake.

What was the first beer you brewed and what was it like? I was never really a home brewer. I did it a few times but it was not interesting at all to me. I always wanted to make beer in a proper brewery.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a brewer? I really would have liked to have been a rock musician. A proper one like Keith Richards or Steve Mariott or Jimmy Page. They were some of my idols. I always loved acting and being creative. I think I signed up for journalism school to make my parents happy – a real job. But it isn’t a real job. My friends from school really struggle and I’ve got the best job in the world.

If you could have a beer from another brewer, what would it be? I really like breweries like De La Senne, De Ranke in Belgium, Theakston and Sam Smith in Yorkshire and locally here in Boston: Mystic.

What’s your top hop? Saaz. You can do everything with that hop and it always gives you more than you thought it could.

How would you describe Pretty Things Beers in three words? Personal. Quirky. Real.

What’s the secret to good brewing? Never listening to the consumer’s opinions. Listening to your brewing elders. Follow your own path through formulation. Drink LOTS and LOTS of good beer and thinking about them. Screw up often. Admit your beer isn’t very good whenever you can. Knowing the limitations of your palate. Knowing the unlimited possibilities of water, barley, yeast and hops.

What is USA brewing doing right/wrong? The USA is really an out-of-control fun place right now beer wise. I have always had mixed feelings. To me beer comes from Europe and we’re just a bunch of pretenders or wannabes (but in a good way). Like teenage garage bands in the 1960’s! In the early days Americans were inspired by European beers but had no idea how to make them – so we started brewing these things that were very American and not very good. Instead of learning how to make European beer we went on to make our own failed attempts better and better. This is very natural and cool. So when I think of “American beer” I think of yellow lager for sure and IPA, double IPA, IPA. Our weird hops have helped quite a bit. That side I like.

Then there’s always been this undercurrent or home brewing and “pushing the beer styles” which I never really got in to. There’s no such thing as beer styles – only beer cultures. So now American brewers are making things like “Mosaic dry-hopped Berliner Weiss with local coffee”. To me this is such shit. Why there’s no appellation controlee on some of the great European beer styles I have no idea. It’s time Europe. Beer styles are going the direction that ice cream flavors did here two decades ago.

So I guess our American brashness is what I’m talking about. Its our best and worst trait in so many ways.

Favourite beer and food match? Pint of bitter and curry & chips.

Which country is making the best beer in the world at the moment? Germany? I like so many beers. Hard to say

What’s the hardest style of beer that you brew? My tribute to saison: Jack D’Or.

What’s your idea of happiness? Being sat in a quiet bar at 2pm with nothing to do all day.

How many good beers does a brewer need to drink in order make one themselves? Ask me again in ten years.

If you could have a beer with anyone from history who would it be and which beer would you choose? Can I go back in time? I’d have a Knickerbocker beer at a New York City bar with John Lennon on December 9th, 1980. After the beer we’d walk back to the Dakota building and I’d take that empty Knickerbocker bar bottle (they’re super solid and heavy) and clock that stupid idiot who wants to shoot him him over the head.

Thank you Dann, see you soon ;)

pretty things

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