We Make Beer: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America's Craft Brewers
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
An eye-opening journey into craft beer–making in America, and what you can find in the quest to brew the perfect pint
Sean Lewis was living in Boston when he first set foot inside the Blue Hills Brewery. He was writing for BeerAdvocate magazine about America's craft brewers, and the then-fledgling Blue Hills was his first assignment. Lewis was immediately struck by the spirit of the brewers he met there. That visit would lead him first to an intensive study of beer-brewing, and later to a nation-spanning journey into the heart―and the art―of American beer making.
What Lewis found along the way was a group of like-minded craftsmen―creators who weren't afraid to speak their minds, who saw their competitors as cherished friends. A group who takes sheer joy in their work, and who seeks the same kind of balance in their lives as they do in the barrels they brew. He shared pints with pioneering upstarts like Paul and Kim Kavulak of Nebraska Brewing Company, and talked shop with craft beer stalwarts like Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada and bombastic innovators like Greg Koch (the "Arrogant Bastard" behind Stone Brewing Co.). He found, in them and others, a community that put its soul into its work, who sees beer-making as an extension of themselves.
We Make Beer is not just a celebration of American brewing, but of the spirit that binds brewers together. It's about what you can discover in yourself when you put your hands and your heart into crafting the perfect pint.
It takes more than an elementary understanding of business strategy to achieve his degree of success. But to him and brewers like him, financial success isn’t the only thing. If it were, Stone likely would have avoided overloading its beers with hops—the most expensive ingredient in beer in terms of price per pound—and focused on cutting costs rather than expanding palates and pushing boundaries. Industrial brewers aside, American breweries are focusing on making a quality product first and
appeared to welcome its role in that community. The same was true in Austin, Texas, at Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery, where brewer Jeff Young puts his beers in the same tap lineup as several guest beers—often world-class guest beers. He holds no pretense about the importance of fitting in to the community as best as possible. “We have tasting panels when our beers are done, and we get feedback from our tasters. Probably the most important thing about all of it is what’s selling,” Jeff said.
as he—and I—could adapt to the complications that arose, everything would be fine. But this did not translate to carelessness or inattention. When problems arose, Andris addressed them. One week, a couple of his new accounts complained that the beer was flat and wouldn’t keep a head—the frothy foam that tops each pint. In order to fix the problem, Andris set about tweaking the recipe to introduce more head-retaining proteins. Those minor quirks and missteps meant that each batch was unique. We
couple of things: that most flavor development in normal ales as we know it from this standpoint is happening in the first twenty-four hours, when we’re controlling temperature, and that wood has an incredible insulative character. And it also has a pretty resilient, protective character. Whether it’s through tannins or whatever it’s through, but it protects that beer from microbiological spoilage. We literally have no or very few spoilers that affect these beers.” After several days in the
aging and make some pretty extraordinary beers playing around with fermentation, wild yeast, etcetera. In a brewpub, that’s pretty big here. Besides being concerned about cross-contamination, you don’t have the packaging-line concerns and the packing issues involved. You don’t have the marketing concerns that come along with it either.” The difference between the two brewers is an interesting part of their story, but what they share and where their ideologies converge is the source of their true