Andrew Johnson is a difficult person to miss here at Housatonic. The attention-grabbing masses of thick brown hair about his mouth and chin is enough to make women swoon, and men bristle with jealousy. His appearance makes it seem as though he had been plucked out of some medieval fantasy story, and dropped, right here on campus. If he had been tugged out of the pages of a book, beard-first, then that world would soon grow thirsty, because Andrew Johnson is a home-brewer extraordinaire.
At the age of 17, while watching a Swedish metal band’s music video, he and his elder brother were shown the simplicity of making homemade mead, and felt inspired to try it themselves. After a failed attempt, some thorough internet research, several guidebooks, and a couple more attempts, Andrew came to find that he had developed a real knack for the art.
Since his first batch, Andrew has successfully brewed a rum-soaked raisin braggart, blackberry mead, oatmeal stout, ginger saison, brown ale, amber ale, red ale, and several more besides.
Now, at the age of 20, he is working on perfecting a coffee-infused porter (a brew of his own design.) While too young to purchase alcohol, he is legally permitted to purchase all the necessary tools and ingredients for creating his own. While age has not diminished his creativity, he has expressed frustration about not being able to take the next step towards brewing professionally.
“On my twenty-first birthday, every brewery in New England is going to get an application from me,” he says, eagerness and excitement plain as day on his face. This is the expression he gets when he talks about the many brewing projects he has undertaken. His experience with the art is substantial, and his skill as a brewer has matured with time, as surely as his beer has.
The study of brewing has lead him to take interest in microbiology, a science that is similar to understanding the chemical process of brewing. Currently, Andrew is a full-time student at Housatonic in his second semester, and working part-time at a Starbucks close to his home in Newtown.
He hopes to continue his pursuit of a brewing career, by attending a specialized school in Chicago, but is willing to be content with brewing purely as a hobby, if need be. However, as a young man with passion, drive, and such an imaginative, self-taught brewing style, it is hard to imagine any professional brewer would turn this talent away.