Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what the primary driver of innovation in craft beer is. Is it consumer demand? Do savvy brewers notice shifting tastes or coming trends and whip something up that fits the bill? Does the local brewpub brewer get badgered by enough beer geeks and homebrewers that he decides something like a Nelson Sauvin IPA is worth a shot?
Or are some of the more innovative offerings a result of the brewer’s desire to make something that he or she finds interesting? To what extent can professional brewers push the envelope and get consumers to follow? Any rational person might’ve thought a hop monster like Stone Ruination IPA was wildly out of place in the craft beer market 10 years ago. Now, not only is it my regular go-to when I want my tongue to swim in a sea of C-hops, but it’s one of the highest rated Imperial IPAs around. Hell, I can get a bomber of it at the gas station down the street while picking up a meatball sub.
Now you may be wondering why I’m spending so much time thinking about this topic, let alone writing about it. I doubt it’s keeping many of you up at night or fueling in depth discussion at your dinner parties. It’s at this juncture that I’ll let you in on a well kept secret: I plan to be a very successful and well-decorated brewer in our quaint little town of Las Vegas.
So how does a lowly homebrewer go about doing this? The first step starts Monday: A part time job at Big Dog’s Brewing Company. I’ll be washing kegs, cleaning lines, graining out the mash tun etc. It’s not glamorous, but it’s a foot in the door at one of the finest and more innovative beer habitats in this town. Trust me: if you haven’t had Dave Otto’s hoppier offerings like Dirty Dog IPA & War Dog Double IPA, you’re doing yourself a terrible disservice. We may even strip you of your Hop Head merit badge.
All that aside, we get back to our initial line of questioning. If I get the opportunity to develop new beers in this highly customer-interactive brewpub setting, what’s the best way of going about it? My first inclination is to lean on what I’ve been successful with and enjoy drinking. Who doesn’t like a Saison with a ton of fruity aroma from dry hopping? Probably a fair number of you out there.
That’s where the real fun of a brewpub setting comes into play. I can talk to you while you experience the fruits of our labor. You can come pepper me with questions and comments any time you like. Please trust me when I tell you that I want to know what you liked, what you didn’t, what new experimental hop you’re homebrewing with, what beer you loved from your recent trip to a new brewpub in Antarctica, what you had for breakfast, etc. I want it all.
I want to push the envelope, innovate, and make great beer by hook or by crook. Whether it’s a crazy idea I have, or it’s based on something you and your buddy drunkenly brewed in your kitchen, I’m all about it. In the process, I hope we can help our local brewers make great beer for you, and thereby thrive.
Most importantly though, please come fill as many growlers as you can if Big Dog’s has a new seasonal farmhouse style beer! Just in case my fancy schmancy beer geek Certified Cicerone tastes don’t quite latch on to the taste buds of the masses.