If you’ve ever looked through our brewing history, or kept track of our Facebook page, then you’ve probably discovered our love for English style beers. It’s fair to say that our enthusiasm for a West Coast style IPA is a bit of an anomaly when looking at our catalog. The other thing you’ve probably discovered is that we like to put our own spin on the traditional. Some of these are relatively common tweaks using common brewing ingredients (Rye-Porter) and others are more wild and experimental (Pumpkin Spice Latte anybody?). That being said we try not to stray too far from what makes those styles great in the first place. This is by no means a template or how you should build your own recipes (we still have A LOT to learn). It’s just some insight into how we work.
Our Mocha Stout is a good example of how we like to construct one of our recipes. Naturally we’ll start by deciding what style we want to brew, but it’s not long until we’re racking our brains for a way to throw the drinker a curve ball. Something that makes them say “You put what in your beer? Does that even work?”. We won’t necessarily throw some random object into our for the sake of making it different. What we’re trying to find is something that will complement the style. For the Mocha Stout we had already seen Chocolate Stouts and Porters, as well as Coffee Stouts and Porters, but never a combination of the two using actual coffee and cocoa nibs. It was a suggestion that Dennis came up with after Jesse and I had been going back and forth about whether to go with coffee or chocolate. It was a solid suggestion and one that seemed to be a natural fit for the style.
Once we figure out what to shoot for we’ll usually start with a standard recipe for the style and make adjustments to help showcase our “wacky” ingredients. For the Mocha we really wanted it to complement the coffee flavor so we upped the Roasted Barley a little, while giving the Chocolate malt a little more love. We also wanted the rich and creamy characteristic you’d get with a real Mocha Latte, so we used Flaked Oats rather then Flaked Barley. All of these small tweaks can drastically change the impact of these new ingredients and how they work together to make a great beer.
By now it’s pretty easy to see how we approach each beer and it’s ingredients. We may have a solid recipe we use for a starting point, but that’s all it really is. Sure we could just take our Porter Recipe and throw cocoa nibs in it, but that’s exactly what it would taste like. Where’s the fun in that? Why not have a beer that stands on it’s own rather then on the shoulders of others?
Stay tuned for our next post!