One of the most exciting things about brewing beer is the sheer volume of options for concocting various tastes, smells, sights and, above all else, experiences. The ability to excite or satisfy the drinker should be at the heart of everything a brewer does. Whether a homebrewer or a professional, the need to gratify the drinker is paramount; but given the multitude of ingredients, processes, styles and options, where does a brewer begin to formulate a concept for a beer? This blog post will look at how Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co. have created beers from scratch by using Beach Bum - our West Coast Pale Ale - as an example.
The first port of call is to note that the concept begins long before the recipe. This is an important factor as you can certainly create a good beer by concentrating on a recipe alone, but a recipe without a concept is like a driver without a destination. To have a clear purpose when brewing helps define all the decisions when buidling the elements of a beer.
Inspiration can come from anywhere: finding exotic foods in the supermarket aisles; a scenic view on a holiday; another beer, or even - in the case of our Leather Soul beer - an illustration from one of the designers we work with. In short, inspiration can come from anywhere and in the case of Beach Bum it was a work trip to LA, where my wife and I were lucky enough to have enough time to chill out on Venice Beach for a few hours before heading to the Venice Ale House where I had an incredible tangerine IPA. I can't recall name of the name of brewery or what strength the beer was, but I do remember being sat on a high stool at a small table looking out onto the wide expanse of sandy beach in 35C bright sunshine as skateboarders and rollerbladers cruised past palm trees - a perfect setting for tasting this wonderful medium bodied, very drinkable, tangerine IPA that had the most amazing citrus aroma.
I wanted to use this memory to create a beer that's perfect for drinking in the sun, whilst still being both refreshing and flavoursome. To achieve this, and to make sure the beer is sessionable, I settled on 5.3% ABV. As the concept originated in LA - I used the outline of a West Coast Pale Ale (bitter, medium ABV, crisp finish, clean bitterness, hopped and dry hopped with citrus forward hops) as a template to work from. I wanted to make sure the bitterness was present without it being overpowering, but still having a decent amount of orange and citrus flavour. After a few pilot brews, I decided to use Magnum at 60 minutes to give the beer a clean bitterness; Bavaria Mandarina and Cascade at 30 minutes and 10 minutes (with an equal weighting of IBUs in each of the 3 additions), and 4 grams per litre of Summit hop pellets for dry hopping. This hop schedule gives the beer a distinct orange twist, yet with additional grapefruit/citrus notes. Dry hopping with Summit really adds a density to the beer's overall hop profile.
Marris Otter is the main malted barley used, along with a few speciality grains, to keep the the malt profile strong enough to carry the hops without being overbearing. As our brewing schedule is slightly disjointed, we cannot use a wet yeast, but use US-05 to make sure the beer has a crisp finish. In future batches, Curaçao orange peel will be added during boil and conditioning, along with different hops (as the current hop markets dictate!! - although I don't think I'll ever stop tweaking recipes to try and improve them).
So, that's the story, concept and recipe set - now for one of my favourite parts: bringing it all together and giving the beer an identity. I'm a firm believer in getting the imagery right for each beer as it's so important to convey what's inside the bottle, on the outside. We work with a great team of designers over at GTR Design Dept. that create the illustrations/artwork/branding and are able to take the brief given to them and turn it into the perfect visual representation of the beer. After a few iterations that weren't quite right (including towels, beach chairs and sandals), the illustration chosen was one of a beach view with footmarks walking away from a palm tree - this image was reminiscent of the Venice Ale House and looking out over the beach towards to Pacific Ocean. This idea perfectly encapsulated the concept. Then the brilliant label.co.uk quickly turned design into reality. The outcome that we're very happy with is below:
As you can see from the main page, we have a number of beers and they all started from a point of inspiration similar to that of Beach Bum. A lot of time is dedicated towards creating the labels and we sincerely hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
As mentioned before, one of the most exciting things about brewing beer is the huge array of options you have to create various sensations; but one of the most satisfying things about brewing is having an almost unlimited selection of available ingredients, yet still being able to construct a beer with a defined identity.
Cheers and thanks for reading,
Paul Greetham | Founder & Brewer | Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co.