Milwaukee County Historical Society

Interview with Dr. David Ryder, October 5, 2021

MCHS Oral History Collection
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00:00:26 - Background Information

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Partial Transcript: [John]: So, David, to start, some background info, where and when were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Dr. David Ryder talks about his childhood in England and his family, being "curious about everything", talking about his schooling and appreciating History and Mathematics in school.

Keywords: Background Information; Childhood; Schooling

Subjects: England; Essex; Life; London

GPS: Link to map
Map Coordinates: London, England
00:02:40 - Beginnings of a Brewmaster

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Ok, and was beer essential to your upbringing?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about his brief experiences with beer as a young adult, and talks about his journey to becoming a brewmaster, which started with his working with barley malt/extract in England. Eventually, he applied to work in South Africa, in which he received a job a year later. He worked at Pretoria and Cape Town, working in microbiology, eventually realizing he could merge microbiology and malt extract experiences, working in brewing. After South Africa, he moved to Zimbabwe working for their National Brewery.

Keywords: Beer; Brewing; Job; Microbiology

Subjects: Beer Culture; Career; England; South Africa; Zimbabwe

00:07:52 - Different Beer Cultures

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Partial Transcript: [John]: So, what was- South Africa was still under Apartheid at that point?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about what it was like in South Africa, especially describing the different beer cultures from South Africa and the UK, claiming that Africa was Lager-heavy, as opposed to ales in the UK. He then continues his life story, meeting a Belgian professor who convinced him to get his Phd in Belgium. After that, he worked for Stella Artois, eventually moving to Chicago to work at the Siebel Institute of Technology teaching brewers, eventually becoming Director of Education.

Keywords: Beer; Beer Culture; Lager; Phd; Politics; School; Siebel Institute of Technology; Stella Artois

Subjects: Balgium; Brewing; Career; England; South Africa; United Kingdom

GPS: Link to map
Map Coordinates: South Africa
00:10:59 - Beer is Always Changing

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Partial Transcript: [John]: When you were at Siebel, the beer scene in the United States was going-undergoing a rapid transformation into craft brewing, and did you-were there some of your pupils that went on to big things?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about how beer is "always changing" when asked about the craft brewery boom in the US. He then continues his life story through Siebel's, deciding to work at Miller in Milwaukee. He was at Miller for 24 years, working his way up to being a Vice President. He talks about several significant beers he was proud of like Miller Clear Beer and Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.

Keywords: Alcohol; Beer; Miller Clear Beer; Seltzers; Trends

Subjects: Career; Craft Brewery Boom; Craft Brewing; Education; Miller Brewing Co.; Siebel Institute of Technology; United States

00:13:51 - Miller and Beer History

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Miller, as you said you like history growing up and still do, is a historic company in Milwaukee. Did you get a sense of that history while you were working there?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about the history of Miller, as the buildings he worked in were the samosa they were from Miller's founding. He talks on the importance of history, recognition, and beer being involved in human life for thousands of years. He uses history as a guide and somewhat as a restraint on himself, claiming that the tradition of beer creates an expectation from the public, and that they shouldn't stray too far from the norm. He is proud that he is continuing the tradition.

Keywords: Award; Beer; Beer Culture; Brewery; History

Subjects: Beer History; Brewing; Miller Brewing Co.

00:17:32 - After Miller/City Lights

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Partial Transcript: [John]: So after you worked at Miller Coors, Molson Coors, um, when did you stop working there?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about how the Miller Company changed under his tenure, changing slightly with each acquisition, then talks about his retirement, and his involvement with City Lights Brewing in Milwaukee. He wanted to remain active in his retirement, so when they asked him he decided to join them. He then explains in detail the difficulty of not only brewing a good beer, but brewing with a consistent flavor with each beer.

Keywords: Beer; Brewing; City Lights Brewing Co.; Miller Co.; MillerCoors; Molson Coors; SABMiller

Subjects: Brewery; Career; Change; Craft Brewing

00:21:39 - Patents, Awards, and Nicknames

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Partial Transcript: [John]: You hold 23 beer and hops related patents. [David]: I've got 25 now actually.

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about his patents, talking about how he is proud of his team and through their enthusiasm they created something new. He also talks about his pride in the awards and titles he has held over the years. Also related are his nicknames, most notably "Dr. Bubbles" due to a piece that the Wall Street Journal did on his team's work with beer foam, and the "Gypsy Brewer" due to his having worked all over the world.

Keywords: Enthusiasm; Miller Clear Beer; Patent; Team

Subjects: Award; Career; Nickname; Titles

00:25:03 - Similarities and Differences of Brewing

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Partial Transcript: [John]: You've worked in many different levels, different settings of the brewing industry are there similarities across the board if you say, go into a brewery in Jamaica versus China versus Milwaukee. is there something that ties everything together?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about the similarities in the brewing industry, to which his first response is the Head Brewer being a bit flamboyant, claiming that even he himself was so when he was the chief brewer at Miller. When talking about differences, he talks about the use of hops, which at Miller they used differently, pronouncing his respect for hop chemists and their work.

Keywords: Beer; Brewery; Chief Brewer; International

Subjects: Brewing; Career; Hops; Ingredients

00:27:23 - Big vs Small Competition

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Let's just talk about your time in Milwaukee, and you worked for the-the biggest brewery in town. And now we have a lot of these smaller breweries. What are the interactions like? And now you're at City Lights, so you are at one of the smaller ones comparatively. Um, while you were at Miller, did you interact with any of the craft brewers or anything like that?

Segment Synopsis: When asked about his interactions with big and small breweries while working at both, Ryder talks on how at larger breweries, they want you at the "top of your game," talking about how brewers are always exciting and Miller's competition with Anhuser-Busch.

Keywords: Anheuser-Busch; Beer; Brewing; Miller Brewing Co.

Subjects: Career; Competition; Craft Brewery

00:28:46 - Challenges in the Brewing Industry

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Partial Transcript: [John]: Um, what do you think some of the biggest challenges for the brewing industry moving forward?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder talks about what he believes to be the biggest challenges in the brewing, firstly he talks about them having to continually "step up their game," mentioning the new Heineken 0.0 non-alcoholic beer, which he thinks might be a new trend. He also talks about the potential for a purine-free beer to help those with gout drink beer.

Keywords: Beer; Beer Culture; Brewing; Gout; Purine

Subjects: Brewery; Brewing industry; Challenges

00:31:03 - Representative Object

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Partial Transcript: [John]: So y'know we-we have collections here at the Milwaukee County Historic Society and we do exhibitions, and I know you're involved with the Museum of Beer and Brewing. [David]: And-and also the Wisconsin Historical Society. [John]: Yeah, so you understand the whole, the-the tying a story to an object, as far as putting something in a collection. if at some point, there was a Dr. David Ryder section of an exhibit on-on beer in some form, what would the artifact be that you would be to represent yourself?

Segment Synopsis: Ryder discusses what artifact would represent him in a beer exhibit, leading him to talk about books, like the one he brought to the MCHS. When asked if there was an influential book that steered him over the years, and he talks about a book that helped him learn how to brew better, which he claims is at the forefront of everything, as one cannot know everything. He also continues on about the difference between hops and malt-heavy beers, emphasizing his breadth of knowledge about the subject.

Keywords: Artifact; Beer; Book; Brewing; Object

Subjects: Career; Knowledge; Learning; Representation; Scholarship

00:34:50 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: [John]: I think that's a great place to end, unless you have any words that-any questions you think I missed.

Segment Synopsis: Ryder acknowledges that in interviews he understands that he talks a lot about beer, because he loves both beer itself as well as learning about it. He encourages people to try as many beers as they can, emphasizing his appreciation of beer in Belgium.

Keywords: Beer; Conclusion

Subjects: Belgium; Tasting; Variety