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Monday, December 22, 2008

Ingredients Protocols

Well, here it is, day 42 of being cooped up under a foot of snow. Really hampers the blogging, as I'm sitting on the same old beer and visiting no interesting new events. Fortunately, I picked up the ingredients for a homebrew a while back, so I can keep myself busy today. And in one small way, this may aid blogging.

The beer I'm planning to brew will not be reinheitsgebot-compliant. However, if I make it properly, it should taste like it is. Or could be. For me, adjuncts should always be minor notes that accentuate the innate beeriness of a brew rather than bludgeoning it while seeking to disguise that fact. Sometimes adjuncts are recognizable (coriander, spruce), sometimes not (coffee, black pepper). But at the end of the ferment, it should taste like beer, not, say, a fruit smoothie.

This rumination led to a question: why do American breweries revel in detailing every ingredient they include in a beer? No doubt it's an admixture of pride and a techie's desire to share the code with others who might understand it. This appears to be a North American instinct, though. Belgian breweries regularly dose their batches with dashes of this and drams of that, never considering the the idea of divulging their recipes. This is how it is in cooking--chefs actually want to keep the recipe secret, so other cooks don't discover the ingredient that turns a mole sauce, say, from ordinary to sublime.

Perhaps it's evolutionary. We might be at that stage where brewers want to reveal their ingredients and methods because of their originality. In ten years, when pinot casks, wild yeasts, and off-beat adjuncts are de rigeur, perhaps breweries will start to get a bit more secretive. I'm not actually looking forward to that day--as someone who writes about beer, I like to know absolutely everything I can about a beer. (Full disclosure: a big part of the reason beer writers want to know is because they're chicken and don't trust their palate. I'm not to proud to admit I'm a little chicken, too.) On the other hand, it might open up the prospect of some very interesting experimentation, too.

1 comment:

  1. What's your "secret" adjunct? Or was that just a tangent to ruminate on secrecy?