Sunday, June 18, 2006

Here's to little beers and big flavor

Show of hands ... who is just bored with high-alcohol and ridiculously-hopped beers? That must sound rather strange coming from someone who named his brewery: Heavyweight. But the truth is if you look at the beers that have come out of Heavyweight, few were over 8% abv. The intent of Heavyweight was to produce beers that were bold and flavorful and when I look back on some of my favorites, I realize that they were mostly lower gravity brews. The Juhlia (a sahti), Black Ocean (black lager) and the current Slice-of-bread (rye beer) are all bold and flavorful and all under 5%. I also believe that it's much easier to create a 9-10% beer than a 3-4%.

Don't get me wrong, strong and hoppy beers can be wonderful and complex. But all these double and triple pales/reds just make me yawn. It's easy to understand the attraction of hops in beer, they are a powerful flavor component. But I would much rather drink a well-hopped ordinary bitter.

As I've stated, making smaller beers is a challenge. Well, making them taste full-bodied and flavorful is the challenge. Anyone can brew beer, just like anyone can make bread. They're both simple processes with simple ingredients. What separates the men from the boys is the technique, passion and art of the process. And that's what keeps me brewing and happy: trying to expand my knowledge of process and continue to develop the art.

As many people already know, Heavyweight will be closing at the end of June 2006 after seven years. The good news for folks who like what we do, is that my wife Peggy and I will be channeling what we've gleaned and achieved with Heavyweight into a new brewery/pub project. As for me, the best thing about this new venture is that I'll be able to make lower gravity beers without some folks raising an eyebrow and asking "You are from Heavyweight, aren't you?".


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