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Old 01-17-2012, 05:20 AM   #1
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Default Writing that request letter to your favorite brewery...

Evening folks! I figured I could use some advice from people with experience in writing to a brewery as a homebrewer and requesting info about a favorite beers recipe so they can clone it. You see - I love a certain brew that has been discontinued, I love it so much I want to be able to make it whenever I get all whimsical and want some - we've all been in this position at some point I'm sure.
I've seen threads and replies on the forum referencing the author's effort, and at times fruits, in contacting a brewery for a recipe or some insight. I'm wondering if anyone out there could help me get started - I don't want to sound like a sycophantic lunatic, nor do I want to sound like I am trying to steal the recipe.
Also, it's a bonus in my favor that this brewery is a microbrewery right?
Thanks

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Old 01-17-2012, 12:09 PM   #2
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I go home to Wyoming every year for vacation and throughout the drive (1600 miles one way) I like to stop at microbrews to stretch my legs. Well my journeys had me passing through Laramie, Wyoming so I hit up Altitude Brewery and Chophouse.

They had a great number of excellent beers, one of which I loved more than any micro I have had to date. I purchased a growler to take back to Ohio to have my brewing friends taste.
I finally decided that I would take a shot and contact Altitude for a recipe.

I simply used their “contact us” link on their website and explained that I loved the beer and purchased 3 growlers to take back to Ohio to share with others and spread the word about their brewery.
I then told them I was a home brewer and would love some insight on the recipe so I could enjoy it at home. Threw in that I would gladly buy it from them but I live 24 hour drive away.

Here is the reply I got, which was good enough for me to make a dang good clone.

Quote:
“Tom, I am glad you enjoyed the Old Venerable. This is a recipe I make each summer and each year I tweak it based on what I did or did not like about batches in years past. I thought this year's batch was the best I ever made. Here is a rundown of the beer:

I start with a very straight forward base of about 50% wheat and 50% barley, with the barley consisting of German Munich Helles and a little crystal 15. I aim for an OG of about 21 Plato, then throw in about 90lbs of honey (250 gallon batch). This is all fermented with the California ale yeast at a high temp (about 72-74) to increase ester formation. I hop it like a west coast IPA. 80 IBU should be enough to balance the malt, but be sure to calculate by hand because most programs get the IBUs to low on high gravity wort. Then I dump in lots of late addition hops and dry hops much like a west coast IPA. Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, Summit, etc. I also like to drink this beer young, because I like it before all the aroma hops mellow out.

Nathan Venner”
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:23 PM   #3
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I've only sent one, to a very small brewery who shall remain nameless, in upstate NY. They've got an amazing scotch ale that cant be found outside of the area. I sent them a nicely worded email, couple of paragraphs, explaining who I was, etc etc etc...

Got a reply back about a week later with:
"We dont share our recipes."

Seriously, thats the entire text of the email. I'm all for keeping your info close if you so chose, but there's a fine line between blunt and rude. Not sure how I feel about it.

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Old 01-17-2012, 03:24 PM   #4
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awesome - thanks for the encouragement. glad it went well for you!! I can only hope the same goes for me, I sent an email via the contact us links et al. fingers crossed

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Old 01-17-2012, 03:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taypo View Post
I've only sent one, to a very small brewery who shall remain nameless, in upstate NY. They've got an amazing scotch ale that cant be found outside of the area. I sent them a nicely worded email, couple of paragraphs, explaining who I was, etc etc etc...

Got a reply back about a week later with:
"We dont share our recipes."

Seriously, thats the entire text of the email. I'm all for keeping your info close if you so chose, but there's a fine line between blunt and rude. Not sure how I feel about it.
i'm sorry to hear that sir - that is a fine line i agree and it would appear they simply shrugged you off. brutal. it wouldn't happen to lake placid and the ubu ale you're referring to would it? i ask because i was taking photos of TAPNY booths and breweries etc this past year and when I got a picture of Lake Placid's table and offerings i was deflecting nasty glances from behind tap handles and ubu is delicious.
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taypo View Post
I've only sent one, to a very small brewery who shall remain nameless, in upstate NY. They've got an amazing scotch ale that cant be found outside of the area. I sent them a nicely worded email, couple of paragraphs, explaining who I was, etc etc etc...

Got a reply back about a week later with:
"We dont share our recipes."

Seriously, thats the entire text of the email. I'm all for keeping your info close if you so chose, but there's a fine line between blunt and rude. Not sure how I feel about it.
You should feel respected enough that they even responded at all.
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GilaMinumBeer View Post
You should feel respected enough that they even responded at all.
really? is it that cutthroat of a brewing world?
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:33 PM   #8
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really? is it that cutthroat of a brewing world?
All I am saying is that it would have been "easier" for the responder to just delete the email as spam or junk. Despite the brevity of the response, at least there was a response.
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GilaMinumBeer View Post
All I am saying is that it would have been "easier" for the responder to just delete the email as spam or junk. Despite the brevity of the response, at least there was a response.
true - i'm definitely guilty of the sin of judging mail as SPAM before I even consider what it could actually be.

i guess i would just like to think that this whole brewing thing is a bit of an ancient club and everyone is more or less friendly to everyone else who heeds the call of the yeasties...

but all in all a response, albeit dismissive, isn't something to shake a stick at afterall.
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Old 01-17-2012, 03:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gtlaw10 View Post
true - i'm definitely guilty of the sin of judging mail as SPAM before I even consider what it could actually be.

i guess i would just like to think that this whole brewing thing is a bit of an ancient club and everyone is more or less friendly to everyone else who heeds the call of the yeasties...

but all in all a response, albeit dismissive, isn't something to shake a stick at afterall.
Meh.

There are some who recognize that a recipe alone does not produce a signature beer. That water, brewery, technique, and the recipe must all culminate to make a successful product.

And then there are some that take the position that a recipe is the basis to their success, or failure, and a sucessful recipe should be guarded to ensure a continued niche in a competitive field.

We all know what trials we face to "perfect" our product. many of us are lucky to be in a situation where that product can generate an income. And we all know what difficulties we face to reproduce a product when we are limited by the ingredients we can obtain.

As a brewer, I respect both approaches equally. And, a simple response is more respectable than no response.
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