Break the Mold – Experiment!

by Billy Ellison | Updated: March 19, 2012

Not too long ago, Billy B. wrote an article about the types of brewers personalities there are. He made the comment that while we may find one personality fits us more than others, we all have a little bit of all of these personalities in us as brewers.

I would like to appeal to a couple of these personalities.

From the very beginning of my venture into brewing, there has always been this drive within me to do more, to try things if you will. I would sit on my back porch with my burner and brew extract kits, and end up with great beer, but there was this word that kept creeping up in the back of my mind: Experiment!

Yes, I found myself constantly wondering “What if…” whenever I brewed. This wasn’t fear, this was wanting to do more.

Great Experiments

When thinking of “experimental beers” the first thing that likely comes to most peoples mind is the brewery Dogfish Head, and rightly so. Just look at some of their beers: Raison D’Etre, Sah’tea and Portamarillo just to name a few. Sam Calagione has become a limit pusher and breaker in the brewing arena. The main reason for this started with simply trying.

This is not to take away from any brewery that is producing fantastic beers to style. Brewing great beer is at the heart of every brewer, be they homebrewer or professional. But for some, that want to push the envelope, there is a wonderful land just over the horizon.

Another great brewery that is just starting up and getting their feet under them is Perennial Artisian Ales out of St. Louis. One shining example is what will be their fall seasonal. Most generally go with a pumpkin or spiced ale for this particular time of year, and they do quite well in making such.

However, the guys at Perennial Ales asked “What if…” and decided to try something different. The result? A fantastic “Peace Offering”, an American Brown brewed with maple roasted squash. Squash people! It was an experiment. They weren’t sure how it would come out. And it came out simply fantastic.

This is just an example of the many ways the limits have been pushed and succeed. So grab that chamomile tea, throw in some roasted vegetables in your next brew. The result could blow you away.

It doesn’t stop there

As a homebrewer, we have another opportunity to really push boundaries. Brewing all-grain, I have come to appreciate the need for a hot liquor tank, a mashtun and a boil kettle. I also appreciate how much time this takes me to set up, use and clean. The answer, you may say, just go build a RIMS or a HERMS, a Brutus 10 clone maybe. Or perhaps you may change it up a little and recommend one buy some such system. These are perfectly great answers to the question.

Again, though, I hear that voice in the back of my head: “What if…”. Using the principles behind all of these types of systems, I am looking at building something that doesn’t really fit into any of these categories. Technically it is a RIMS system. However, it will be my own take on it. Sure it may fail and I have to start over. However, if MacGyver can fix an engine block with a nickle and some jumper cables, then I have to try to build it. IT COULD WORK!

Those three words, for me, are what make all aspects of experimenting with brewing such an exciting and formidable challenge.

Billy (other Billy, Wd, etc.) is a transplanted Southern boy currently living in Southwest Missouri. Since being exposed to the homebrewing community, he has been building his passion for the full variety of beer styles. Not one to be tied down to one style, he continues to branch out in brewing styles, making each recipe his own, building a base of recipes for all to enjoy. Look out for building projects too, as RIMS has become a fascination of this fledgling homebrewer.