Tag Archives: craft beer as creativity

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 4/25/17

In my perusal of news stories this morning looking for my One Article, I ran across two things that changed my focus.

One was from Bomani Jones in a series of Tweets about how the news publishing world has changed from the base being the publication to the article to the kernels of information. Here is the end of the Tweet that caught my attention, “…and i think we could objectively say plenty of valuable stuff loses to bullsh_t.” As craft beer fans or just as beer fans in general, we know this is true and we will say that play out as the next couple of years.

The second thing, the one article for the day, is this from one of my favorite websites, brainpickings.com.

In this space, I have often made the point that brewing is a creative endeavor.  Besides the beer, one thing that I love about craft beer is how that creativity bumps up against the business of craft beer.  This summary of physicist David Bohm’s essay On Creativity, captured my attention today as I tried to stay away from legislatures and the alcohol wholesaler lobby.

My favorite part of his summary is Bohm’s description of how a child learns to walk.  I requote it here, “trying something out and seeing what happens, then modifying what he does (or thinks) in accordance with what has actually happened.”

In a perfect world, that is how brewers would approach each new beer they create.  I love the creativity of craft beer while grudgingly accepting the business of craft beer. Again, the fun thing is how the inclination to create runs into the need to move product.

As a brewer, you have to understand your customers also want familiarity because it grounds them and orients them.  If you create a beer and your customers love it to the point that you barely can keep up with demand, as a business you must keep making it. It almost doesn’t matter if you like the beer or even if you viewed as a step towards the creative “oneness” Bohm wrote about.  You keep making it to keep paying rent.

I’ve noticed when people come into the bar and taste beers before they pick one, it seems to me they are looking for the right answer when they aren’t even taking a test.  Bohm was right that as we grow older we become afraid to make mistakes and lose that sense and pure joy in discovery that toddlers have.

The bigger the brewery the greater the fear and consequences of making mistakes.  That is one area the smaller breweries have an advantage over the bigger brewers.  Smaller brewers can afford to be constantly creative and feed the craft beer’s public insatiable search for the next big new thing. If something doesn’t work, they change course quickly.  However, just as important is knowing what you are and making those creative choices within a consistent framework and plan.

That is why the brewers I like and respect most are ones who combine that creativity with a good business plan and have a strong sense of who they are, what they are, and where they want to go.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 11/21/16

There are five ingredients to craft beer.

There are four ingredients everyone talks about:  water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.  The Germans even codified those ingredients into an official law.  These four ingredients and their manipulation are also why I fell in love with beer and continue to fall in love with beer every day.  You take those four ingredients and you change or shift any one of them and you have something different.

If you move from hard to soft water, your beer will taste different.  If you use dark malt or light malt or a combination of dark and light malt, you will get a different beer.  If you change hops or change when you add hops, your beer will become something different.  If you change the yeast strain you use, your beer can take on a banana/clove taste or a barnyard taste.

Then there is the fifth ingredient.  If you take a beer recipe with just the four other ingredients and give it to three different brewers, you will get three different beers.  The fifth ingredient is the brewer and his/her creativity.

As much as I talk about the business of beer and laws surrounding beer and how we need to take beer more seriously as an industry, that isn’t why I’m drawn to beer.  Those are interesting things that are fun to research and think about, but that isn’t why I’m here.  I’m a romantic.  I love the people in the craft beer world and I love the creativity of brewers and others involved in it.  They are why I keep coming back.

Make no mistake, I think of craft beer as a creative enterprise.  The creativity of that fifth ingredient is the difference between craft beer and big beer.  There are talented and creative people that work for big beer.   I know this because whenever these people are unleashed by leaving big beer or getting to make something special and one off for big beer they almost always shine.  However, their day to day activities are hamstrung by the necessities of making lowest common denominator beer.

I love creative types and I love listening to them talk about the thing they love.  I have a friend who is a baker and whenever she talks about any part of baking from the process of coming up with a recipe, to the construction of a speed rack, to putting powdered sugar on the finished product, she radiates.  It is beautiful to see.  Brewers are the same way.  If you ever get to talk to one about any part of the brewing process, please do.  You will come away with an appreciation of beer and the people who make it.

There were no blog posts, articles, or news stories that piqued my interest today and talked to my friend the baker yesterday and it got thinking about how creative people are even if they aren’t officially called artists.  It helps to remember that every time you read a story about big beer buying up a smaller brewery or you hear about a legacy craft brewer getting close to extinction.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/5/15

All artistically successful creative endeavors have one thing in common: their authenticity.  That means they have a thread of the “real” running through them that the viewer/reader can feel.  That real thing isn’t some posture created simply to attract a certain demographic.  It is something deeply felt and deeply held by the artist. It is a part of the artist’s core being.  With the explosion of new breweries popping up I think this question of authenticity in craft beer will become more important. Two things are happening.  First, in order to distinguish themselves from others brewers are trying to find their thing.  That thing that sets them apart and makes them stand out from all the others.  The second thing that will happen is the consumer will figure out which brewers’ distinguishing characteristics are authentic and will drift towards the ones who actually represent something and not just some market-tested affectation.  In other words, it may take a while, but the public almost always figures out what is bullshit.