Brew Artisan Q&A: Allan Jackson, Sanford Brewing Company


When Allan Jackson (above left) isn’t brewing at Sanford Brewing Company with partner Chris Esser (above right)—or drinking their creations—he can be found jamming on his guitar, or tending the butterfly habitat he and his with Kathe created at their area home. This brewery located in a 1930s historic building is known for their extensive craft beer selection, unusual brews and an award-winning brewery menu. 

 What beer are you most known for/or is your favorite to make?

We’re probably most known for Killa Vanilla Porter, but Celery City might be the most fun to make because it’s so unusual.

 How did you become a brewer?

I was first introduced to real beers while stationed in the UK in the late ’70s and found typical American light lagers lacking after I returned. In the early ’80s I spotted a bubbling carboy at my best friend’s house and he helped me to get started shortly after that, around  1983.

What’s your favorite local brewery or brew pub other than your own?

I don’t have a single favorite local brewery/brewpub, but Wops Hops, Central 28, Hourglass Brewing and Big River come immediately to mind for good beers other than our own.

What’s your favorite beer/food pairing?

Our buffalo wings with My Precious, or our meatloaf sandwich with Celery City. Yum!

What music is playing while you brew?

It depends who gets to the Sonos first. If it’s me, it’s usually blues.

 If money were no object, what beer would you produce?

We’re already producing them, but I would probably be interested in ramping up production of Killa Vanilla, Weiz Guy, BluBeary IPA, Peachy Keen, Razzmatazz and Panty Dropper for major markets. Dang, I keep adding beers to the list! We have some really good beers and lots of ideas.

What’s your best advice for the novice beer drinker?

Learn the key characteristics of various beer styles by reading brewing books and the BJCP style guidelines and you’ll develop a greater appreciation for how well a brewer nailed a style or for how they varied a parameter to make something more unique. Of course, it’s hard to tell one thing from another without experience, so my strongest recommendation is to get involved in beer competitions through a local homebrew club and learn how to steward for beer judges. As a steward, you’ll be able to taste samples in the flights of beers being judged and listen to the judges talk about what they’re seeing, smelling and tasting. You’ll also get to read their comments on the judging forms relative to each style’s parameters. You’ll soon have a much deeper understanding of aromas, colors, flavors and textures and the terminology used to describe them.

The Brew Club of Seminole County has a monthly tasting event where a style is declared and then samples are brought in to evaluate. The participants fill out judging forms as a way to guide them through each parameter and they discuss as a group how well the sample aligns with the parameter. This is very useful experience for training your palette.

What’s your funniest/strangest/you-won’t believe this beer story?

Back in my early brewing days, I had a batch of stout that just kept fermenting, even after bottling. A case of this stout had been left with the lid open on a table in a breakfast nook and we went off somewhere for a few days. While we were gone, three of the bottles had exploded.  Because they were sitting down in a case, the force of that explosion channeled upwards, destroying the light fixture hanging above the table. The stout sprayed everywhere in the nook, everywhere on the walls and blinds from about 4 feet up. The dark stains could not be removed from the wallboard and the cords in the blinds, so all of it had to be repainted and replaced. Thank goodness no one was around when that happened! After that, I learned to read bottle caps to determine if excessive CO2 was building up and needed to be vented. This skill proved useful at beer judging competitions later to be better prepared for bottles that were likely to gush when opened.

At the end of a long, hard day… what are you drinking, and with whom?

I’ll probably be drinking Razzmatazz to quench my thirst and I’ll drink it with either Chris (discussing a plan for the next day), or a familiar face in the taproom.