Interview with a Founder: Igliashon Jones

Welcome to the first in our monthly blog series introducing our founders.  For this month’s blog, we’ll be interviewing our brewmaster, Igliashon Jones.

Graduation day at UC Santa Cruz; yes, he really wore that!

First, what’s with your name? Many have asked.

My legal given name is John Jason Yerger, unofficially “Jason” to family and friends, but Igliashon was a nickname I picked up in college that seemed to fit me better than my given name. I appended the most banal surname to it I could think of–“Jones”–as an ironic contrast, and it became my de facto alias for all things online. I like it because it is utterly unique, you can google it and literally every result relates to me (for better or worse). Since more people know me as Igliashon than by my legal name, I’m kinda stuck with it at this point!

When and where were you born?

I was born in sunny San Mateo, California, in the wee hours of December 29th, which would make me a Capricorn (though I’ve never much identified with the typical traits ascribed to the sign). I grew up in the small coastal town of Half Moon Bay, just a wee bit west of my birthplace, and up until I moved to Seattle to join the Ghostfish team, I’ve never lived more than a 45-minute drive from my birthplace.

Do you remember your first beer?

It’s hard to say–there’s a classic picture of me as a baby wrapped around one of my dad’s empty Budweiser bottles, I couldn’t have been more than a year old, and while I obviously didn’t drink the beer, I know I at least tasted it (since, like most babies, I put EVERYTHING in my mouth, that bottle included).

How about your first GOOD beer?

I don’t remember the name of the beer, but I was probably 17 or 18 at a family reunion on the East Coast, and one of my aunts was drinking what I now know to be a Belgian wit-style beer. She gave me a sip of it and it was totally unlike any of the cheap American lagers I was accustomed to poaching with my delinquent friends–the fruity bubblegum, banana, and clove notes from the Belgian yeast and the creamy and sweet malty body just blew my mind!

When did you first get into homebrewing?

A young Jason (pre-Igliashon days) rocking out

That would be during my college days at UC Santa Cruz. I have to thank my friends Marc and Whitney of the infamous Baldwin House for introducing me to the art; they and their housemates were avid homebrewers, and I was lucky enough to enjoy their creations on a regular basis. I didn’t get into it myself until I learned about gruit, a hopless and allegedly-psychotropic form of ale made with wild herbs, popular in the middle ages. Nobody makes gruit anymore (probably because many of the herbs are potentially toxic or otherwise excessively mind-altering), so if I wanted to try some, I’d have to make it myself. With some guidance from my friends in basic methodology, I dove in with both feet and crafted my first concoction–an “absinthe porter” made with wormwood and juniper berries instead of hops!

If you could only drink and/or make one style of beer for the rest of your days, what would it be?

Tough question to answer definitively. I’m tempted to cheat and say BJCP category 21–“spice/herb/vegetable beer” because there are very few limitations on that style, but in the interest of playing fair, I’d probably go with one of the darker beers–stout, porter, or brown. Those, at least, were my usual choices before my diagnosis of gluten intolerance, and I still dearly miss the great Pacific Northwest dark beers, like Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter or Rogue’s Chocolate Stout.

Aside from brewing and drinking craft beer, what are your passions in life?

Igs playing on an aerial lyra at Burning Man 2012

Music is probably my number one. I’ve been playing guitar since I was twelve years old, drum set since fifteen, and have been recording my own music since my senior year of high school. I’ve played in probably 20 different bands and have over 30 albums of my own recordings under various aliases and pseudonyms. Beyond that, I’d say my next biggest passion is climbing. I mostly boulder these days, but in the past I’ve done lots of top-roping and even some aerial silk and corde lisse (which I hope to get back into once the brewery is no longer completely dominating my life!).

How has being gluten-intolerant impacted your life?

I was diagnosed at age 25, so I’ve had a long time to learn and adapt to it, which makes it hard to say since my routines have become well established. I’ve gotten to the point where I just automatically overlook most menu items at restaurants and large portions of the grocery store as essentially being “not food”, and I tend to instinctively ignore Italian and Chinese restaurants, pizzerias, and bakeries, as well as all fast-food restaurants. Here in Seattle, that still leaves me PLENTY of options, but going on the road is a challenge. I do still get unwittingly cross-contaminated despite my best efforts, and that’s never pleasant, but I’d say in general the biggest impact I face is just getting SAD when I look at the huge craft beer sections at local grocery stores and realize there are maybe only a couple brands that I can drink without getting sick. Which is why I’m so excited to be doing what I’m doing with Ghostfish!

Any closing remarks?

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to meeting y’all in our taproom!

You can follow Igliashon’s latest musical project, Pixel Archipelago, on Soundcloud.

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