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Seattle brewers, watch out – Dan Payson is getting dangerous.

September 11, 2012

Brewing in the (rather substantial) shadow of brewmaster Skip Madsen is no easy thing – especially if you studied architecture, not chemistry. But Madsen’s right-hand-man Dan Payson is up to the task – and more than that, is stepping out this week with his debut beer, the Peloton Saison. It’s certainly not his first independent brew, but it is the first one you get to try – if, that is, you’re lucky enough to live near American Brewing Company’s tasting room. And let me warn you: Payson brews incredible beer.

A Chicago native, Payson moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2006 for a job with an architecture firm in Seattle. While creative, detail-oriented work was his passion, a confining office job was not. To alleviate the drain of computer screens and cubicles, he purchased a 5-gallon home brewing kit and made his very first batch of beer in the apartment he shares with girlfriend Cara in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.

“I brewed the wort on the electric stove top, and fermented the whole thing in our hall closet,” said Payson of his humble beer-brewing beginnings. “It was very satisfying to see the product happening right in front of you. With architecture, it might take two years to see your end product; [with beer], what you make takes two weeks.”

This new-found love for brewing got Payson thinking about a career change, but it wasn’t until 2010 that something fortuitous occurred: while enjoying a few pints at Piper’s Creek Pub, he had his first run-in with Skip Madsen’s signature Breakaway IPA.

“I saw the hockey stick tap handle, and as a hockey player, I had to try it. I knew it was an excellent beer and whoever made it loved hockey.”

This discovery put him on a search for the hockey-loving brewer who made what Payson described as “the best IPA I’ve ever tried.” After finding Skip Madsen at American Brewing Company, he became a regular customer, and was soon spending his spare time volunteering in the brewery. When a job offer came, Payson couldn’t say no. “Sure, I took a pay cut. But there are so many benefits – all the beer I could ask for, and the opportunity to create my own recipes and share those with the community.”

Along with the Peloton Saison, which is a Belgian-style farmhouse ale, Payson has Cascadian Dark Ale in the works – it’s easily the best beer I’ve tried all year. It’s a bit hoppy, a little roasty, and not too sweet – sure to round out October better than a pumpkin. Stay tuned and visit the ABC website for upcoming releases and specials from Mr. Dan Payson!

Ashley Davidson, Marketing & PR @ American Brewing Company

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