Kenjiro Tomita is the head brewer from Crooked Thumb Brewery in Safety Harbor Florida, whose brewery won two medals in the 2016 Best Florida Beer Professional Championship. Crooked Thumb Brewing first opened to the public in October of 2015, but despite the late‐start, this new kid on the block brewery managed to take two medals at this year’s Best Florida Beer Pro‐Brew Competition! They received a Silver medal for their German‐Style Pilsner named Grandpa Jack’s. But that’s not all! They also took home Bronze for one of our most competitive categories, American‐Style Pale Ale, with their tasty Street Dog Pale Ale. In order to better get to know this Best Florida Beer medal winner, we asked Crooked Thumb’s Head Brewer Kenjiro Tomita a few questions about himself.
How long have you been brewing?
I have been brewing since I was 5 years old. My dad was a homebrewer growing up and some of my earliest memories are helping him on brew days scrubbing his pots, adding hops and the smells of mash and boiling. I started brewing on my own in high school and I have been in love with it ever since.
How long have you been brewing professionally?
I have been brewing for 3 years professionally. I went to the UC Davis Master Brewer’s Program. I interned at Deschutes Brewing Company and Hangar 24. I then became the head brewer of a Triple 7 Brewery in
How long have you been brewing with Crooked Thumb?
I have been with Crooked Thumb since September of 2015.
What brought you into the brewing profession?
I grew up around brewing and my father instilled in me a love and passion for beer and brewing. The
brewing community is also pretty awesome. You can go to any brewery anywhere meet the brewers and
its like meeting best friends you never knew you had. I also like how the craft beer industry openly shares
ideas, processes and information; all you have to do is ask.
Was this always your goal occupation?
Getting into the brewing industry was something I always thought about. However, I initially pursued a
career as a pharmacist. As I was completing my Bachelor’s degree and working as a Pharmacy Tech I
realized this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life I really hated. At the time I was becoming more
and more passionate about brewing and that’s when I decided I needed to get in the industry and I applied
to the UC Davis Master Brewer’s Program.
How large of a brewing system do you work with everyday?
Here at Crooked Thumb we have a 15BBL brewhouse, 6 15BBL fermenters and 2 15BBL bright beer tanks.
Our brewhouse was built by Brew Fab locally here in St. Pete.
Do you have any out of the ordinary brewing equipment or any unorthodox brewing habits?
Our brewing equipment is pretty standard there is nothing really out of the ordinary there. As for
unorthodox brewing habits the only thing that comes to mind is after I finish my morning coffee I have to
drink a pint of whatever beer I am brewing that day.
What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome as a brewer?
My biggest hurdle to overcome as a brewer was learning how to practically apply all of the theory and
science I learned at UC Davis.
What was your biggest brewing disaster?
My biggest brewing disaster came while I was working at Triple 7. I was brewing my first IPA there and I
was going to flash pasteurize my heat exchanger. I left the whirlpool valve open to the kettle and I flooded
the wort out of the kettle with the hot water I was pumping from my HLT.
What is your favorite beer style, favorite commercial beer?
Favorite beer style is hard to say. I’d have to say most times my favorite style is Pale Ale. Favorite
commercial beer is much harder to nail down for me. There are so many great beers out there I can’t
choose a favorite.
We hope all of our readers get out to Safety Harbor and try some Crooked Thumb brews. Their beer has
been a hit in the Tampa Bay area and they’re quickly making a name for themselves. Crooked thumb is
located at 555 10th Ave S in Safety Harbor. You can find more information about their beers and brewery
on their website at crookedthumbbrew.com. You can also like them on facebook here