By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
While there’s always something new and interesting happening in the beer world, it’s important to occasionally look back on how breweries began to get a new perspective on techniques and styles. There is plenty of research available to homebrewers that highlights the development of beer throughout the centuries. By digging into the past, we may be able to try out a new recipe to begin the next year of making beer at home.
In the beginning, it’s believed that the brewing of beer was the result of a happy accident. Grain was likely left outside in the rain, creating the perfect set of circumstances to create the first batch of beer. We commend the brave soul who took the initial sip of this probably terrible-smelling, odd-looking concoction. But the risk obviously paid off.
The process was then refined over a long period of time and it took quite a while for humans to discover the science that makes it all happen. But modern beer wouldn’t be what it is today without the first homebrewer. As with musicians, it can be helpful for beer makers to examine their historical counterparts. Some interesting ingredients have come and gone and reappeared. One example is heather tips, which are found in some modern brews. Finding a way to mesh the past and the present can lead to new and wonderful flavors.
Whoever came up with the phrase “You can’t reinvent the wheel” never met a homebrewer on a mission to create the next exciting style. Every year new beers hit the market that in some form or another first came about in a home-based brewery. While it may seem as though everything under the sun has been tried (or even some experiments that shouldn’t have seen the light of day), that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to build upon and improve the Cascadian dark ale or even the India pale lager. With all of the new ingredients made available every year, it’s only a matter of time before a Belgian-style peanut butter imperial IPA has swept the country. The objective should not be to shock people, but instead try to find the perfect balance of ingredients that is truly unique.
This constant struggle is the curse of the homebrewer. Along the way there will be epic failures, but instead of viewing them as losses embrace the experience as a learning opportunity. While we know that the liquid that comes out of our fermenters doesn’t always taste right, there are always plenty of friends who are more than happy to drink it anyway.
Dubbel Double Bubble [AG]
Dubbel Double Bubble [Extract]
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.