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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Opening a Dream Brewery

How many homebrewers daydream about turning professional? Most of them, I'd bet. In fact I bet the only ones that don't, are those that've already started the journey toward a brewing career.

So here's an opportunity for you to daydream for a bit. If you opened a brewery tomorrow, what would you brew? A beer range that'll keep you interested, but that'll also pay the bills. Something you'd happily quality assess during the day, then sink a couple of in the evening.

For me, it would be a small but varied core range:

Gateway Pilsner. Filtered lightly. 4% alcohol. Available in bottles and kegs only. This would be the brewery staple, a beer that doesn't leave the front door unless its perfect. It would have a bready, toasty malt backbone with a floral, grassy aroma of noble hop. It would be a beer that the macro-drinker can easily switch too, but not put down.

Pale Ale. A session beer for the cask drinker. 3.8% alcohol. Available in cask only. Munich and cara malts for toffee and caramel sweetness without the acrid, tannic harshness of too much crystal malt. Zesty, citrusy American hops. Served through a sparkler for extra body ... if the drinker so wishes.

New Zealand IPA. A hybrid for hop-heads. 6.8% alcohol. Available in keg and bottle. Think grain bill and hopping schedule of an IPA from the West Coast of America, but with hops from New Zealand. Biscuity, caramel malts underneath a tropical fruit bowl of mango, passion fruit and lychee. A citrus-free zone.

Porter. A dark beer for everyday drinking; inspired by London. 5.5% alcohol. Available in cask, keg and bottle. Sweet up front with a firm bitterness to finish. This beer would be made with chocolate and brown malts, not roasted grains - producing a flavour profile of chocolate, coffee, heavily toasted brown bread and nuttiness. NOT an alternative to Guinness.

Imperial Stout. Available year-round; only to be drunk on special occasions. 10% alcohol. Available in bottle only. A beer to be sipped and enjoyed slowly. Big chewy, malty sweetness carried by a thick, oily mouthfeel. Notes of espresso, cocoa, liquorice and bitter chocolate. Enough sweetness remains in the finishes to balance out a bold, dry, aggressive hop bitterness.

And then on top of that core range, I'd mess about and have fun. I'd do a version of the Imperial Stout with coffee beans and I'd release it in wax-topped bottles once a year - just like Dark Lord and Kate the Great. I'd funk stuff up with wild yeast and bacteria, ageing it in wine barrels and in casks that once contained spirits. I'd use fruit and spices and I'd try to do stuff that nobody else has done. I'd collaborate with fellow brewers and the brewery would always been open to amateurs.

What would you do ...

Picture from here.


Mark Dredge said...

I was thinking about this a few days ago... I think 5 beers is a good core range and these are the beers I'd want to drink more than any others. I'd need a lot of tanks for mine though...

If I had the facilities and equipment then I'd make a pilsner. 4.5-5% ABV. Pale, dry and big on noble hops. Like you, I'd want it slightly hazy. I'd also do a version of this as an American-hopped pils.

I'd want a session hop bomb. 3.5-3.9%, massively late-hopped, really aromatic and pale but low in bitterness. Proper juicy and fruity.

There'd be an IPA. Something around 7%. Loads of American and Aus/NZ hops, pale and bitter and loaded with hops.

I can't resist an oatmeal stout so that'd make the dark end of the line-up. Smooth, rich, chocolatey, creamy. About 5% (with the thought that I'd make a bigger badass version of it a couple of times a year). Mmm.

Specials would be whatever I'm inspired by at the time.

Brother Logic said...

My core range would be a Berliner Weisse, a hoppy 7% ish Saison and a Mild made with just Brett. No seasonals, but just loads of experimental brews.

Mark said...

Mark: Similar choices to me, you have good taste. ;) The session beer would be the beer I'd target at traditional cask drinkers and the pilsner would be a gateway beer with mass appeal - hopefully getting drinkers to move on to other things once hooked.

BL: They sound like interesting beers, but I think you might've missed the point about being profitable .... :P

T_i_B said...

Everyone else is saying Pilsner in answer to this question where I would rather do a good best bitter instead.

Beyond that, a really good sessionable pale ale, either a porter or a stout and a big IPA.

David Wilton said...

It changes all the time, it is hard to nail a homebrewer down...

Mid Atlantic Pale: 5% brewed with English yeast but fermented cool to keep those esters low. Hopped with plenty of citrus American hops. A good blend of yeast and hop fruits that its difficult to tell which is which.

Porter: 6.5% much like yourself brewed with brown malt and restrained use of black malt. This can be served on keg or cask making dramatically different beer.

Belgian Blonde: 6% I love a Belgian blonde and I think it is a good entry point to real beer and enjoyed by men and women alike.

IPA: 6.7% English IPA brewed with a combination of English and american hops but balancing the bitterness with a good level of malt sweetness. It shouldn't scream american hops or bitterness. I'm not anti american, but I like taking american ideas and ingredients and putting them in to English beers.

Bitter: 4.7% English bitter which if I could get it close to the bottled version of London Pride I'd be happy. In the bottle there are more hops and a great malt flavour. I've never managed it though.

Bob said...

I'd do what The Kernel do, brew a shed load of different beers. Then maybe re-brew a few every now and again, but mainly just brew new stuff.

In the past I always thought that I'd like to brew a 60/-, 70/-, 80/- and 90/- as a core range, but my tastes have changed. I also get bored very easily, so brewing the same beers day in, day out, doesn't appeal.

Mark said...

WEB: I like the belgian blonde idea but might be a bit worried that 6% abv would put macro-drinkers off. How about something between a bitter and a blonde? Belgian yeast character but soft carbonation and less alcohol?

Something that uses both US and UK hops would be interesting. Sounds like a very difficult balancing act to pull off.

Bob: I know what you mean about brewing the same thing over and over again. I think the challenge of making something consistent and tweeking something toward perfection would keep me interested though.

Bailey said...

The standard beer that props up the whole business has to be a lager or an IPA (c.5%) -- that's where there are gaps in the market, or at least in the craft beer market.

Having said that, we keep fantasising about a "Cornish farmhouse beer" (aka saison) -- we're sure it's got some historic precedent (research underway...) and would also have tourist appeal.

dredpenguin said...

Oh let me see....Might be giving away something here....

5 regular

A 5% pale ale with shed loads of Kiwi hops. Bottle 500ml and Cask

A 5% lager with loads of C hops. Bottle 500ml and Keg

A 5.5% stout with loads of roasted barley and plenty of other grains. Mashed high for increased body. Bottle 500ml Keg and cask.

A 6% saison with some interesting spicing. Bottle 330ml/750ml(perhaps)

A 7% IPA with huge dry hop character. Bottle 330ml Keg

And 3 regular once a year brews of stronger beers 7.5+%. An imperial Stout, A Barley Wine and a double IPA. Each with a vintage on the 330ml/750ml bottles.

One off series of Single hopped beers, in assorted styles. Dispense method depending on style.

Plus loads of other ideas for limited edition one off brews.

Matt Stokes said...

Your brewery sounds great, I would be a loyal customer!
Mine would be very similar, perhaps with a big US hopped IPA in addition to the NZ, and I would definitely have a best bitter modelled on the great cask beers I loved at university - HSB, Hobgoblin et.
It is surely the 'mess about' beers that you really dream about brewing though - my first would be a nutty, sweet strong brown bitter aged in sherry casks with raisins and nuts - a beery version of sherry.

Sean Ayling said...

Mark - this is the best blog post I've read in ages.

In terms of core range I'd be looking at:

A 4.5% oatmeal stout (cask only) loads of fuggles and some Northdown.

American Pale Ale (assuming I could actually get my hands on amarillo and simcoe). About 6.8% keg and bottle.

My mate's bobek pilsner 4% and late hopped. Incredible beer. Keg

English Pale ale 3.8%, but again late hopped with Bobek. Cask.

Red Rye Ale 6%, US hopped, keg and bottle.

Specials: Elderflower infused version of the English pale, Green hop ale, smoked porter, honey wheat, single hopped antipodean pale ales (assuming the availability of US hops continues to be sporadic) and a UK hopped impy stout.

Mark said...

Bailey: If you make a Cornish farmhouse ale ... I think it could pretty much be whatever you want it to! :P There aren't many style pedants that would argue with you there!

DP: Bit of a scoop on your beer range!? I like the sound of those. I like Camden US Hells a lot too, but I think I'd aim for a traditional Czech pilsner before going US with the hops.

Matt: Damn right you'd be a loyal customer! You can take the first collaboration spot ... something about coconuts???

I'd be tempted to go with a more standard US IPA but I think an NZ version offers something a bit different. I think for fun I'd want to make one-off versions of the NZ IPA with all US hops and then all UK hops. That would be fun.

That sherry beer sounds great, would a barely wine work better than a strong brown bitter though?

Sean: Thanks, glad you like it! I like the sounds of an APA with Amarillo and Simcoe, but have you strayed into IPA territory there at 6.8%? That Bobek pilsner sounds great. I've used Bobek before and got loads of lemony notes out of them.

Leigh said...

I think about this all the time;
- and I now know that I couldn't do it! I have too much ADD that would mean it would be a big, hulking mess! I'll stick to enjoying, writing about, and the odd spot of homebrewing, I think! Now a bar/grill with amazing food and beer...that's another story...!

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