Mad Brewing Scientists Push the Flavor Meter: A Story in Three Parts

Written by Erin Browner
Photos by Henry Nguyen

“We’ve been brewing seriously together for about a year now,” explains Ryan Dalton, a seasoned home beer brewer. He chuckles and looks over at his brewing partner, Kenton Hokanson. The two do more than brew beer at home; they make homebrewing a scientific experiment. Their risky recipes and daring flavors raise the do-it-yourself brewing bar.

The dedicated duo pour their love into beer brewing even on weekends. The guys recall their first brewmantic adventure together. It was a basic recipe— “an easy red ale,” says Hokanson. After perfecting basics such as pale ales, stouts, saisons, and IPAs, the guys have excelled to tougher recipes that cater to their demanding palates. The two now add whole jalapeños for a richer flavor. The idea is to brew beers with gulpable flavors, qualities that cheap and mass-produced products like Coors lack.

Dalton and Hokanson are neuroscience graduate students at University of California, San Francisco. On weekends, they brew ten-gallon beer batches in the kitchen and basement of their NOPA home. Once a beer is up to par, the guys find a chemical or scientist to name the beer after, which make their brewmantic adventures too cute to overlook. These brilliant, mad beer scientists walk the line between experimenting and brewing. Since their day jobs include experimenting with mice, the duo decided to name their budding brewery, I Kill Mice.