For the past few days I have been going on about different levels of designing beers, but not really going into depth about actually designing a beer. Personally, I am all about the story. I look at a formula for a beer as I do a recipe for food. I don’t buy cook books that do nothing but list random recipes with no real rhyme or reason to their existance other than some cook book author decided that they looked pretty. The same holds true for brewing books that do nothing but list recipes but tell nothing of how or why the beer was brought into being.
With that said, brings us to my thought process when I am designing a beer. This isn’t to say that my methods are the best or anything like that. More to the point what I am sharing is the way a story unfolds when designing something more than just another beer. Just like an amazing dish, this is an adventure that you will share with others over a beer or two.
When I start a concept beer it is most often because an idea popped into my head and I wonder what it might be like as a beer. Dirty Rotten Scoundrel was just that. I wondered what the Steve Martin movie would be like if it were a beer, daunting task, or is it?
The movie took place in Vienna, so right off the bat we have a major starting point for the beer, a vienna lager. Knowing what our base will be is probably the biggest hurdle, it sets the tone for the entire beer. Thinking again of our concept we have to wonder what else might bring us in line with the concept. The movie is centered on a couple of con men that bilk wealthy women of millions of dollars. Not something easy to bring into a beer but the whole concept of the movie is something spicey, racey, a little sexy even (I know the movie was a comedy but that is irrelevant to the idea behind it all). This gives the idea of adding black pepper to the beer.
So now we have a vienna lager with pepper, but the last element to add in is the scoundrel. What about this beer would give it a little twist kinda like the con from the con men? A simple idea would be to up the alcohol but hide it so it sneaks up on you. A big peppery vienna lager that drinks smooth and silky, a Dirty Rotten Scoundrel.
In execution, the recipe really wasn’t that hard to figure out. The hardest part was figuring out the elements that would bring the beer together. In the end it was really just a large amount vienna malt for the mash for a higher original gravity and then deciding when to add the pepper.
As crazy as it might sound it really is just as simple as that. When you start to piece together the elements you can easily build a recipe. The best part is that it turns into more than just a beer, there is a story that you would not find just grabbing a prebuilt recipe.
I do believe it is now time for a pint…