If you’ve been following my posts, you know that I’ve scrupulously avoided making specific comments regarding this fine ale we’re so close to brewing. There are many reasons for that (one, of course, being the vultures out there) but in reality it’s probably because I don’t really know. OK, forget the probably…I don’t know enough to commit to an outcome yet. I’ve worked in the brewing industry for years and have been part of many brews as well as the processes involved in bringing these brews from concept to reality. With a complete brewing facility in place and all the in-house knowledge regarding that particular system these things can be difficult and unpredictable…so I haven’t felt comfortable with the idea of sharing my mental processes which includes developing an entire brewing system with methods that I (nor anyone else I know of) have utilized before. My experience in developing beers led this development of my brewhouse, something that I was determined to experience (see first post, artisanal manifesto).
I know this sounds boring and serious, but it’s not. Keep reading.
As this brewery has developed, I’ve held on to the concept of Sahalie (our flagship ale). It’s been difficult at times, but after my very fortunate experience having free reign to brew anything I could conceive, I led myself to an idea of a beer that fulfills all the challenges I want to meet as a brewer. While there is fun and excitement in consistently brewing new batches of beer with new ingredients, it is my desire as a brewing artist to fully explore the potential of every bit of beer brewing knowledge that I have acquired by a commitment to brewing to a conceptual ideal rather than style. Where the raw materials play second fiddle to living organisms and and to a process that is both representative of the past yet completely new. This is where I see beer stepping off into the horizon of the future.
Let me try this another way:
Back when I was young(er). Back when I thought being a brewer was simply just cool and I didn’t know what to do with my geology degree. Back when I didn’t know diddly-squat. Someone was leaving town for the first time and their family had a big gathering. I think I wore a tie. I had just been accepted to UC Davis for the Master Brewers’ Program (in actuality it’s the Apprentice Brewers’ Program, and a good one at that). A well-to-do woman from a family I had known since grade school, upon hearing I was going to school to learn how to make beer, said, “WHY? Why not wine?”
At the time, I smiled and laughed and probably said something pretty juvenile. At the time, I didn’t drink much wine (or much good beer, either). I knew somewhere about a fundamental culture difference between the two beverages and I wasn’t about to join up with a bunch of people who wrote cursive all the time. Something like that. Anyway, the years went by, I matured as a brewer and began drinking much better beer and began to appreciate really good wine. I appreciate how it’s completely natural (and expected, desired) for each vintage to taste different…how the wine represents time, represents natural expression. Beer could be so industrial, with all the gigantic tanks, automated valves, computer programs. We brewers were obsessed with consistency and a single strain of yeast…we spent all of our time protecting our beer from that great big world out there. Poor, sheltered little beer. I imagine a little boy with pressed clothes, perfect hair, and no friends. He’ll be successful, though, won’t he? I suppose if the little boy represented American Lager, then our craft brewing today would be much like the X-games 20 years down the road.
Knee-deep in metaphors, aren’t I? Get to the point, Arney!
As a youth, I was pushed toward the sciences because I did well and, practically speaking, this is exactly what the system is supposed to do. However, through this magical mystical thing called fermentation, I’ve discovered that, regardless of science, I am driven by artistic creation. I have manipulated my own scientific upbringing in the name of art!
Could the beer really be that different than anything out there? Am I just filling the space while this brewhouse takes it’s own sweet time to get to business? Trying to make my first sale?
I am a proletariat entrepreneur now. I am trying to make a buck (in a ridiculously difficult, yet completely honest way). In the light of the recent ‘Occupy’ protests, I’m working on bending like a reed in the wind…working with all the great things available in our society and consciously avoiding the negative. It’s in this manner that change will come, but it won’t be for everyone.
OK, maybe the aliens will come back. Maybe then we’d get back to the Garden of Eden.
Until then, my little contribution to making the world a better place will be this beer called Sahalie and what The Ale Apothecary stands for. It’s not simple, and it’s not predictable. It is, however, packed with:
Creativity and flavor through countless yeast strains, bacteria, Goschie Farms Cascade hops, Briess Pils Malt, Great Western NW Malted White Wheat.
Barrel fermentation, barrel-aging, oak barrel mash tuns.
Skyliner water, the main reason we built the brewery up in the woods.
The celebration of history, skilled artisanal labor, friends and family.
Going to be brewing soon; got to stock up on all of my ingredients…especially that last one. It’s going to take this whole thing up and over the top.