Today’s topic is recipe replication and all the potential pitfalls a brewery might face when they inevitably attempt this feat. There are a lot of difficult things to master in this business, especially on the brewing side – don’t even get me started on bumping a recipe up to 465 gallons from 10 – but replicating an already existing product might be the most difficult challenge by far because you have a public benchmark or standard that most people expect you to meet.
Beer is an agricultural end product and thus it relies on grain, hops, and water, which are at the whim of that year’s growing climate and precipitation. So, protein levels, starch, and nitrogen might well change year to year in barley and other grains and thus affect color and efficiency; alpha acids, essential oils, and thus flavor and aroma, change year to year and even day to day in hops; and water changes significantly throughout the year as snow melts and rainfall fluctuates.
So, what motivated this blog post? Well, part of my motivation is to educate all you fine beer drinkers but another bit of motivation is the re-release of our Mariposa Pale Ale, which happens to be a little different than the Mariposa that’s been on tap these last five months. Now, that beer was pretty awesome and popular but this version is even more awesome so it will probably be more popular. Mariposa 2.0 is a touch higher in alcohol, which we weren’t exactly expecting and also dry hopped to increase the wonderful hop aroma, which we obviously were expecting.
The higher alcohol is due to using a fresh pitch of yeast, which fermented out more sugars, as opposed to using a re-pitch of yeast from another brewery (which we did the first time we brewed this beer), which wouldn’t have been as vigorous and thus would have fermented out less sugars. We also determined that a little more hop aroma couldn’t hurt, so we dry hopped the hell out of it and, not much to our surprise, it turned out pretty well.
Long story short, or rather short story longer, we are posting this blog to own up to the fact that this beer is a little different and to shed a little light on a very difficult process in the brewing business. Craft beer is craft for a reason: it’s diverse, it’s ever-changing, it’s small and artisanal, and frankly, that’s what makes it great. Expect some variation in your favorite craft brew; in fact, celebrate it. And if you don’t like change or variation then maybe the big three beers are your ticket to tranquility.
We will be tapping the new and improved Mariposa 2.0 today at 4pm, so swing on by after work and start the weekend off right. That is all, you may now go back to your rousing game of solitaire.
A Votre Sante.