William Myers ’08 Finds His Niche as Colombian Brewmaster
by David Klein | Back to Table of Contents
Just as a master violinist dreams of making music on a Stradivarius, William Myers ’08 dreams of making his craft beer with a centrifuge.
“Rather than having to pass your beer through a filter, where you have material touching the beer and possibly stripping out aroma and flavor compounds, a centrifuge spins your beer at 5,000 rpm — so all the solids you don’t want in your final product are removed,” he explained. “The beer comes out super clear, and it’ll last longer on the shelf. But one of those machines right now is about 80 grand. I’m hoping that in five or six years it’ll come down enough that wherever I’ll be working will have one.”
A self-imposed challenge
That enthusiasm comes in handy in Myers’ line of work. As head brewer at 20Mission Cerveza in Medellin, Colombia, he created six beers before the combination brewery and restaurant opened its doors in September 2018: a pale ale, a porter, a saison, an IPA, a blonde and a witbier.
“Nobody would tell you to launch a factory with six beers,” he said of his self-imposed challenge. “In the U.S., no one starts a brand with that many products. But there’s such a hole in the [Colombian] market that I felt like it was necessary to put out enough of a spectrum of flavors to show that we do a lot of different things.”
Myers began to research and experiment with brewing as a communications major at Tulane University, and he hasn’t stopped since. Brewing feeds his passion to be constantly learning. “You don’t need a degree — you need experience, and to know what’s happening in different parts of the process,” he said, “whether it’s analyzing raw materials or fermentation. Even people in the industry for 30 years say they are continuing to learn all the time.”
Seizing the moment
Along with Myers’ hard work, his timing has paid off too. The artisanal movement — wanting to know the origins of what we consume and opting for higher quality food and drink — has been a boon to his business. So has the growing market for pale ales and IPAs with tropical fruit flavors. “Tourists from the U.S. or Europe come here and they enjoy our beers, and as the trend has gone away from bitterness, Colombians also enjoy our beers,” he said. “So we’ve had a little luck.”
Despite his very full plate, Myers has branched out recently. The company has begun producing what he calls “a completely natural raw tonic water” using bark sourced from the Cinchona tree, which is native to Colombia and yields quinine extract, along with cardamom and other local spices. “When other people here have tried to do tonic, they use quinine extract, most of which comes from China, and the extraction process is expensive. Having the product here was a huge boon to us,” he said.
As busy as his brewing activities keep him, Myers finds time to enjoy the beauty of his adopted home, and he heartily recommends Colombia as a destination for fellow Ravens in search of an enriching, affordable getaway.
“There is a lot to see here,” he said. “This is a beautiful country. I really like doing motorcycle touring. You can just hop on the bike and go to another region, and the landscapes are incredible.”
William Myers ’08 is head brewer at 20Mission Cerveza in Medellin, Colombia.
The six new beers Myers developed before 20Mission’s opening in 2018 are popular with U.S. and European tourists as well as Colombians.
Ravenscroft Magazine, Spring 2014
Tiffany Needham ’01’s Soeul, Korea-based craft brewery