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Old 10-29-2007, 10:00 PM   #1
Dkidwell83
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Default An interesting question

I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately and have talked with a couple people in my area about the question. Could a small scale brewery survive that was a "batch by batch brewery" that made each batch by hand instead of withy machines and sold the beer under the idea that the proof of making it by hand was in the fact that although each batch is very similar in flavor, there are slight nuances that can be detected but that this is where the enjoyment in drinking it comes from.

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Old 10-29-2007, 10:19 PM   #2
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I think if you can manage distribution, and whatever production schedule you need for that - sure you could survive. I mean you aren't going to run a successful micro with a bunch of 5gal carboys in shelfs.

Getting into the business requires funds, and/or time. Time because it takes time to accumulate all the equipment you will need for large scale production without breaking the bank. A loan may help you out in this regards..

I'm quite interested in this thread..

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Old 10-29-2007, 11:58 PM   #3
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I believe this is the concept behind single malt scotches and single barrel bourbons. Each batch allows a slightly different flavor profile to come through to the consumer and will always be unique.

They stay in business through low supply and high demand which of course allows them to charge a super premium price. Plus, some of that stuff is decades old too.

I like the idea of applying this to small scale brewing. Wait, that's what I'm already doing!

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Old 10-30-2007, 12:20 AM   #4
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I believe most small breweries already do this. Unless you're talking brewing in carboys for really small batches. I don't think anyone brewing on a 7-10 bbl system is using machines to mix in the ingredients.

The brewery I work at has very subtle differences between batches. We have a ten bbl system. The OG's fluctuate up to a whole degree plato, attenuation varies, we add more dry hops to the pale ales going to competition.

Then there's the oops variations. A couple months ago, Travis (our head brewer) accidentally crash cooled our golden ale after only a week. We had to slowly step up temperatures to get the yeast rocking again, then lagered it for another month before we kegged. And last week I mis-counted the grain bags when I was milling so we ended up with a higher percentage of wheat in the grist, and undershot the OG.

It is a brewpub business, so 95% of what we make goes straight out the taps on the other side of the glass. We don't bottle. But we make consistently good beer on every batch.

In regards to your question, I think it would depend on your business model. At a brewpub or microbrewery with just a tasting room, you could probably run it successfully never repeating a recipe, but people are always going to want to have that beer that they had last month, and you won't have any more.

If you're looking to bottle, you're going to need a good consistent product that isn't going to change and has a good shelf life.

We have four flagship beers that will always be on tap. A gold, wheat, amber, and a pale ale.

Then we usually have 4-5 seasonals that vary quite a bit. It may be a recipe that we've made before, or it might be something brand new. We're planning a Baltic Porter and a Raspberry Amber right now.

wow, that was a long response and I'm not sure if I answered your question at all.

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Old 10-30-2007, 12:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTpilot
we add more dry hops to the pale ales going to competition.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying here, but if you're entering a beer under a name that you market and you're changing the recipe to alter/improve it, I think that's underhanded and dishonest. The consumer would be buying what they think is an award winning brew and instead they're getting something that's deliberately less than what was judged.
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Old 10-30-2007, 12:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fingers
Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying here, but if you're entering a beer under a name that you market and you're changing the recipe to alter/improve it, I think that's underhanded and dishonest. The consumer would be buying what they think is an award winning brew and instead they're getting something that's deliberately less than what was judged.

I disagree. It's the same beer. If you added 15% more dry hops to a recipe and didn't change anything else, do you think it's a whole new beer?

Also, everyone is tweaking there hops due to the price increases. At least all four breweries here are. And I guarantee that no one is going to change the name of the beer just because their using simcoes instead of cascades.

The only way you would have been able to detect the increased hops in that beer would be a side by side comparison.
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTpilot
I disagree. It's the same beer. If you added 15% more dry hops to a recipe and didn't change anything else, do you think it's a whole new beer?

Also, everyone is tweaking there hops due to the price increases. At least all four breweries here are. And I guarantee that no one is going to change the name of the beer just because their using simcoes instead of cascades.

The only way you would have been able to detect the increased hops in that beer would be a side by side comparison.
[OK, I just want you to read this...I am NOT angry with you or your organization...I am only stating facts (as I know them), so please don't get angry back...that is not my intent].

How many times have you witnessed someone say "This doesn't taste the same as I remember it." ? ? ?

I have to disagree with you - yes, it's entirely another beer!

It is not the same beer the customer has been drinking and the customer should be told about the change in the recipe along with WHY the changes were made. If you don't then that's an old bait and switch technique called fraud.

IMO, changing recipes is underhanded, immoral and proof that all companies care about is the bottom line and not the product or their customers.

Even Coke and Pepsi changed the names of their products when they changed their recipes. Maybe their lawyers know something....

Of course, this doesn't apply to you, right?

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Old 10-30-2007, 01:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTpilot
If you added 15% more dry hops to a recipe and didn't change anything else, do you think it's a whole new beer?
Actually, yes I do. It may be quite similar to the one you sell, but it's certainly not the same and if it's marketed as the same, that's not right, IMO. The whole point of these competitions are to get the experts to judge the beer that is being sold. An award winning beer with 15% less hops is not an award winning beer any longer.
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Old 10-30-2007, 04:09 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=homebrewer_99][OK, I just want you to read this...I am NOT angry with you or your organization...I am only stating facts (as I know them), so please don't get angry back...that is not my intent].[\QUOTE]

No anger here. This is a discussion and an interesting one at that in the ethics of commercial brewing

[QUOTE=homebrewer_99][
How many times have you witnessed someone say "This doesn't taste the same as I remember it." ? ? ? ][\QUOTE]

I have seen this quite a bit. And the reason the same beer taste a little different from the last time could be that the recipe got tweaked, the beer got warm in transport, it got lightstruck, the asst. brewer mistakenly tweaked the grain bill, the brewer was trying something new to make the beer better, the keg wasn't cleaned properly, the lines weren't clean,...

[QUOTE=homebrewer_99][
I have to disagree with you - yes, it's entirely another beer! ][\QUOTE]

no two batches are ever the same, but the same base recipe, tweaked a little bit are still going to get marketed and sold the same (at least at the small level of commercial brewing)

[QUOTE=homebrewer_99][
It is not the same beer the customer has been drinking and the customer should be told about the change in the recipe along with WHY the changes were made. ][\QUOTE]

I also wait tables and bartend at the brewpub. I told everyone that liked that beer that this was a special batch, with extra hops, for a competition. They were very appreciative. I never had anybody ask, "well why don't you brew it like this all the time?"

[QUOTE=homebrewer_99][
If you don't then that's an old bait and switch technique called fraud.
IMO, changing recipes is underhanded, immoral and proof that all companies care about is the bottom line and not the product or their customers. ][\QUOTE]

I don't feel it was anywhere near fraud, nor immoral. The bottom line is definitely why it is the way it is, but that's business. Not that I agree with it. If the brewer, or myself were the ones signing the paychecks, the beer would always have that extra cascade aroma. But the fact is, the difference was so subtle, most people wouldn't even be able to discern between batches.

[QUOTE=homebrewer_99][
Even Coke and Pepsi changed the names of their products when they changed their recipes. Maybe their lawyers know something....][\QUOTE]

are we really comparing a small brewpub in Montana to coke or pepsi?


No two batches of beer are the same, homebrewing or commercial. The larger breweries have more consistency, so bud light tastes like the same watery mess it always does. But our beers change from batch to batch, it may be a change in the recipe, or a change in the temperature of the strike water. They are not changes to make more money, they are changes to make the beer better.

In this particular instance, the beer was made a little better for the sake of a competition. That seems slightly underhanded for the sake of competition, but not to the customers. On the other hand, in the competition, they're judging that specific batch of that specific beer. There are no rules that say the beer tasted at judging must taste exactly that same as the beer poured from your taps.

The brewers take pride in their work. The quality of their work is judged solely on the product, and it is constantly judged by the customer. This was not an underhanded attempt to make more money. Just a tweak in a recipe for a competition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99
[Are we still friends? ]
of course we are. and i urge any one of you to come in and drink a Sharptail Pale Ale with me and you'll see that it is still a damn fine beer with only 6 lbs of dry-hopped Cascades


edit: not sure what's wrong with the quotes, can't seem to figure it out either
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Old 10-30-2007, 04:12 AM   #10
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I know that hop substitutions and recipe tweaking goes on all the time in the brew pub industry.

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