You know what? I'm super excited this week. Know why? As 2012 begins to wind down and we're that much closer to the launch of GrassLands, I just continue to be enthusiastic about the field to which we're entering. The Slate had a great piece this week on nanobreweries and how they're changing the craft beer scene from the ground up - one creative batch at a time. If you've got a few to spare, give it a read here...trust me, it's worth 5 minutes of your time. Now, I don't want to start GrassLands out as a nano (less than 7 barrels - or a 217 batch production capacity), but I do want to add to the creativity that smaller breweries embody. My philosophy on commercial brewing (or any career, mind you) is this: if you can't have fun doing it or don't enjoy it, then why do it at all? I love that craft breweries are the ones creating trends, as opposed to following them.
Week-to-week, we continue to encounter new people, brewing procedures, beer styles and enthusiastic ways to view this whole adventure. Yet throughout this whole journey, we've kept to one of our primary tenets of brewing - to continue fostering our creativity. In jest, I always note that I was somehow left out of the creative gene pool in my family - my brother and sister are both artistic, can play instruments, can look at a static object and think of unique and/or humorous ways to portray it. I can't do any of that. Yet when I'm in preparation mode for the next batch of beer to be brewed, the creative juices start flowing and they don't stop. I look at one of my older pale ale recipes and think: how can I make this A) more enjoyable; B) different from what I can find at my craft beer store; C) go beyond the boundaries of the style; and D) in line with the GrassLands mission? Perhaps the realization of my creative-side just took longer to develop than that of my siblings :)
Even when I'm brewing a recipe I didn't craft myself, like I did with my buddy Thomas C. this week, I still have a very deep appreciation for what went into it. Typically, the beer-artist is someone just like me - looking at beers differently and thinking about what could be done to really take it to the next level - or to push the boundaries of existing BJCP styles. I'm all about it. In the past when we've talked collaboration, I've pushed that out as a beneficial attribute to the craft beer industry. However, my real interest is in getting together with similarly structured individuals and spitballing, for lack of a better term, on what a really unique beer could be as well as the potential of the final product.
Sometimes breweries fall flat with these efforts. Lord knows I've done the same in my years of brewing. Hell, at our annual NFBL Best/Worst night - held every December - I always seem to have a "worst" category beer to submit. This time around I uncovered an Agave Nectar Mead I made way back when (I believe my 4th ever batch) where I fermented with a bread yeast you typically find in a pantry...not a local HomeBrew store. The outcome wasn't all that bad, but not something I'd buy...ever.
But really, anytime I produce something that I wouldn't drink (after first saying to myself: "you know you're starting a brewery, right?"), I think about how the heroes of the industry have had similar instances - and these are breweries producing high quality beers. So no need to worry - it's all in the creative spirit. My end goal upon launching is to have a smaller pilot system to allow for the creative juices to continue to flow - and to give the taproom patrons something different...something they can't get anywhere else...something produced from the right side of this brewer's brain :)
Anyways, with all that said, we'll continue to crank out an experimental batch here & there before launching, all while feeding the GrassHoppers the latest versions of future flagships. And who knows? Maybe one or two of these experiments will turn into seasonals! Man, I'm excited about launching a brewery - there are just so many opportunities and angles to take with this thing.
So with all those ramblings out of the way, it's time to head north to Atlanta again to visit with the family for an early Christmas. They get to partake in the first tasting of the Spontaneous Funkification IPA (everyone remember that story?) - which, in my humble opinion, is now PRETTY. DANG. GOOD. Go figure! Keg-hopped with some very aromatic Cascade hops, we'll see how well my creativity can compete with that of my family. I can't draw or paint or play an instrument, but I can brew a mean beer (albeitonethatspontaenouslyfermentswithoutactuallypitchingyeastyetstillturnsoutnotallthatbad) ;)
Now we can (finally) close. Have an awesome weekend, my dear readers, because you definitely deserve it.