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.