Finding Inspiration

July 6,2011 by 1 Comment

So you have finally decided to make the jump, time to start designing your own recipes.

You do Pale Ale, maybe an India Pale Ale, and a couple of one-off beers. Eventually though, you might hit a rough patch. Maybe you stagnate, brewing the same beer or style over and over, or maybe you just can’t think of anything at all!

At that point the best idea is just to take a step back and look around, because inspiration is all around you. It can come from a variety of sources: books, movies, songs, grocery shopping, or even things that you do everyday.

The key is to just start looking.

To illustrate this point, I want to share with you two stories of inspiration that I’ve had, one of a beer that I brewed and one that I am planning to brew:

Irish Whiskey Porter

I have a fairly eclectic taste in music and part of that includes Irish Folk music. One song that that derived one of my more popular beers so far was “Finnegan’s Wake.” A verse in the song describing the setup of the wake goes a little something like this:

One morning Tim got rather full,
his head felt heavy which made him shake
Fell from a ladder and he broke his skull, and
they carried him home his corpse to wake
Rolled him up in a nice clean sheet,
and laid him out upon the bed
A bottle of whiskey at his feet
and a barrel of porter at his head

After listening to that a few times, I decided to brew a beer that would be worthy of Mr. Finnegan’s wake, namely an Irish Whiskey aged Robust Porter. The recipe was fairly straight forward in that I brewed a standard Robust Porter then aged it for 3 weeks on oak chips soaked in Bushmill’s Black Bush. I wish I could share this recipe with you, but alas, that computer is no longer in my possession (read: stolen).

Good Ol’ Southern Cream Ale

Inspiration for this beer comes from one of my favorite dishes to eat, Shrimp and Grits. I may have grown up my whole life in IL, but I have a huge soft spot in my heart for good Southern cuisine. I decided one night that I wanted to create a beer that not only included my favorite cooking grain, but also would pair well with a nice creamy bowl of shrimp and grits. Thus the Good Ol’ Southern Cream Ale was born:

OG: 1.042 (70% Eff.)
IBU: 20

84% – US 2-Row
10% – Corn grits
6% – Crystal 10L

20 IBU (FWH) – Amarillo

Wyeast 1056 – American Ale

Mash at 148F and Ferment at 64F.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, you just need to look! Where are some of the places you have found inspiration?

Photo is copyright shlala and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons

About Ryan Murphy

Ryan has been homebrewing for just shy of 2 years and is in the planning process of starting a nanobrewery. A native of the northern IL farm country, Ryan is currently enjoying the beer and brewing scene of Chicago, IL.

One response to “Finding Inspiration”

  1. Sheppy says:

    To be honest, I’ve never had a lack of ideas. My problem is I have too many things I want to brew and not enough time (or capacity) to brew them. BYO and Zymurgy magazines both have several recipe ideas every month. The Brewing Network’s “Can You Brew It” has many beers I would brew if I had more time. I have several facebook or forum friends who mention beers they are brewing. Heck, I have not even come close to scratching the surface of the book “Brewing Classic Styles”.

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