Beer is made up of four basic ingredients: water, grain, hops and yeast. You can add other adjunct ingredients such as fruit, spices, herbs, etc but it’s those main four ingredients that make beer identifiable as beer. Let’s explore our approach to these ingredients.
Water makes up the majority of beer. All water is not created equally, though. The minerals in the water have a profound effect on the flavor of the beer. We start with a reverse osmosis system that removes nearly all of the minerals from our water, allowing us to start with a blank slate. We then create the water profile that we want, by adding in only the minerals we want. This allows us to create the ideal water for the style of beer we’re making.
Grain in beer is generally malted barley, wheat, oats and spelt, as well as unmalted versions of these grains can be used as well. We are fortunate to be in California, where these grains thrive. Where possible, we buy from local producers in order to add California terroir to our beers. Some styles of beers are defined by their malts, so we will source malt from England, Belgium, Germany and other places in order to faithfully create the beer style as it would be in its country of origin.
Hops provide bitterness, flavor and aroma in beer. With literally thousands of varieties of hops to choose from, and more being added every year, it’s a real challenge to determine how to work with them. We choose the approach of keeping things simple. In hop driven beers, such as IPA, you want to taste and smell the hops, but you want to be able to identify the flavors and aromas of the particular hop. For this reason, we rarely use more than 2 or 3 hops in a beer. We know that many beer drinkers want to know what hops are in the beer, so we state what we used in the description. We use a variety of hops from around the world, depending on the specific style of beer we’re making.
Yeast is what turns wort (pronounced wurt) in to beer. In our case, “yeast” is often a mixed culture of one or more yeasts and various strains of bacteria. In many styles of beer, yeast does not produce much flavor at all. In other beer styles, it may be the primary source of flavor. Like most breweries, we purchase yeast from laboratories. We do this in cases where we want the beer to have the correct style as it would in its place of origin. Unlike most breweries, we also maintain our own yeast cultures. We have a wide range of landrace cultures that were originally wild captures from local fruit, obtained from farmhouse brewers, etc. We use these landrace cultures in a variety of beer styles, and you can expect them to be unusual and interesting!
Adjuncts are beer ingredients other than the four main ones described above. We choose not to heavily rely on adjuncts. We make fruited sours, as they are enjoyable to drink and yeast cultures cannot typically produce these flavors and colors. When we use fruit, we try to obtain local organic fruit, and we’ll tell you the name of the producer. We don’t follow trends and include adjuncts just because it’s trendy at the time, though. Since we can get coffee flavor and aroma from roasted malt, we prefer to achieve the appearance of coffee with the malt. If we’ve used an adjunct, we’ll describe it in the beer’s description.