Thor Cheston, 38, is the co-founder of Right Proper Brewing Company. He lives in the District.
Growing up as Thor Cheston, did you feel a lot of pressure to be, like, successful in a manly pursuit?
No, actually! I absolutely hated my name until I was about 15. I wanted my parents to rename me Scott or something. When I was 15 I grew about six inches in a year, realized that no one was likely to forget my name anytime soon.
How does one go about getting a knighthood in Belgium these days?
I was going to Belgium about once a year, and I got to know a lot of the different brewers there. I was buying a lot of Belgian beer, first for Pizzeria Paradiso, and then for Robert Wiedmaier at Brasserie Beck. One of the importers we worked with called me one day and said I had been nominated by the committee, and it was unbelievable. There were six or seven months between that and learning that I got voted in. So I got to go there and participate in a big ceremony. It was really awesome.
Did you get the sword on each shoulder?
A mashing fork.
Do you have a title now?
Sir Thor Cheston, Knight of the Brewers’ Mash Staff.
My God. Do you have a certificate or a little card you can keep in your wallet or something?
Yeah, I have a certificate. And a medal.
When do you wear your medal?
Mostly in the shower and in bed.
What has surprised you about D.C.’s taste in beer?
That it seems to be ever-evolving. D.C. is just a wonderful community of very interested, educated consumers. They’re ready to absorb anything new or gain a greater understanding. Not just different styles and trends and things like that, but a real, fundamental, deep understanding of how beer should actually taste. That hoppy beers should be drunk fresh. And just because it’s sour doesn’t mean it’s good beer.
Is there any food that doesn’t go with beer?
Salad. There’re so many different beers out there, you can find a beer for pretty much anything.
All the fruit beers. That’s a no-brainer.
Okay! Disqualified. I’m reading from your website menu beer descriptions. “This brett-IPA is medium bodied but light on your palate. A touch of acidity dances playfully amongst notes of tropical and citrus fruits and fresh cut flowers.” When did it become okay to talk like this about beer? As opposed to “tastes great, less filling”?
When people started to realize that beer had more to offer. Wine has received this lofty position in the pantheon of alcoholic beverages. Garrett Oliver, in his book “The Brewmaster’s Table,” points out that wine only has one ingredient, but beer can be made with hundreds of ingredients. If you look at the spectrum of flavors that are possible in any recipe, beer is always going to win.
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