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! These cultures allow us to make fun beers that are distinctly DTSJ. Many of our house cultures will never drop completely clear. When we use them in beer styles that are traditionally clear, this may lead to one of our beers not being brilliantly clear. The flavors these cultures impart in the beer will makeup for the lack of clarity, though!

Note on brettanomyces: We brew with various strains of brettanomyces (aka “Brett.”) We will always state if brett is used. There is some scientific evidence to indicate that biogenic amines produced by some strains of brett can cause an allergic reaction in some people. For example, one of our brewers will sneeze and may have red splotches on his cheeks and neck while enjoying a brett beer (or wine.) It’s generally a minor annoyance, but some people would be best if they avoid brett beers. Some of our house brett cultures do produce biogenic amines. If you are allergic to biogenic amines, please contact us to discuss the beer before purchasing.

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.


Natural carbonation

We rely heavily on natural carbonation. When yeast ferment sugars, they produce alcohol and carbon dioxide (co2.) When beer is made, the co2 is allowed to escape from the fermenting beer. Once the beer is finished, most brewers force co2 back in solution, thus carbonating the beer. It’s easy and allows for more consistency throughout the batch of beer. We generally keg our beers using this method. In the old days, this wasn’t possible, though. Brewers of the past primarily used two methods to carbonate beer: spunding and secondary fermentation. Spunding is fermenting under pressure and not allowing all of the co2 to escape during fermentation. We’re not currently using this method, as it requires tanks that can handle this pressure. We do rely heavily on secondary fermentation, however. There are two main benefits of packaging with secondary fermentation. First, it creates excellent package stability. When yeast ferment, they consume nearly all of the oxygen that is in the liquid. Oxygen is the enemy of beer. Exposure to oxygen causes beer to change color and for off flavors to develop. The second is that it allows us to carbonate to a much higher level than is possible when force carbonating. As you move carbonated beer from a tank in to a keg, can or bottle, the movement makes the co2 want to break out of solution. This causes foam and reduces the amount of co2 that is in the packaged beer. Many styles of beer such as Belgian, sour beers, traditional Berlinerweisse, etc are much more carbonated than a typical IPA. It’s easy to achieve these levels when naturally carbonating via secondary fermentation. We package all of our bottles, cans and some kegs as naturally carbonated. We will state if the beer is naturally carbonated on the label or in the beer’s description.

To swirl or not to swirl?

One side effect of naturally carbonated beer is that there are live yeast in the beer. If you chill the package and allow the yeast to settle, they will stay on the bottom of the container. If you pour aggressively or stick the bottle in your backpack while you’re riding your bike, the yeast will move back in to suspension. Beer Cicerones are trained to ask the drinker whether they would like the yeast to remain in the bottle or be swirled back in to the beer. It’s really a personal choice. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to enjoy a naturally carbonated beer, and there is no harm in drinking the yeast. You will not have a brilliantly clear beer and it may taste a little different with yeast in suspension. We develop our recipes without consideration of the flavor of the yeast. Therefore, our recommendation is to gently pour and leave the yeast behind in the package. You can also gently pour half the beer in glass to taste the beer without yeast. Then, swirl the can or bottle to see what it tastes like on your second glass. Most yeasts will add an earthy flavor component to the beer when they are in suspension. Some of our house yeasts have almost a dried shitake mushroom flavor when they are in suspension. Others have a strong fruity flavor, such as orange peel or stonefruit skin.