Monday, July 11, 2011

Homebrew "Marketing Speak"

I often disregard the "marketing speak" found on the craft beer packaging I purchase.  While some of it contains helpful information, such as designated style or types of ingredients used, much of the text is fluffy and generally superfluous.  However, following blogs like Pour Curator has shown me the amount of energy and creativity that is necessary to create a solid beer brand and marketing image.  While I may feel that such energy should be harnessed and put towards the product inside of the bottle, it is clear that such efforts are important to today's craft beer industry.

I must set aside this marketing skepticism once a year, however, in conjunction with a friend's summer party.  I have been brewing beer for this annual crab and clam fest for several years now, and my friend likes to provide tasting notes for the attendees, so they have a better idea of what can be found in the various taps.  The effort in creating the homebrew "marketing speak" always seems far greater than the resulting words on the page.  It gives me a greater appreciation for the difficulty of generating these messages, but it does not completely eliminate my skepticism.

I thought that our readers might enjoy my mediocre marketing efforts, keeping in mind the light-hearted family and friends gathering they originate from, so they can be found below.



Hippy Hawk Bohemian Pilsner – Bohemian pilsners are more malty and rounded than their dry German cousins, while still retaining the crisp and sharp hop edge that defines the pilsner style.  This characteristic roundness is emphasized by lower mineral content water that provides a softer body, which helps bring the malt body in balance with the Czech Saaz hops.  The Hippy Hawk Bohemian Pilsner features the same name as last year, given that it is a repeat recipe.  The name originally came from a hawk that was circling over the deck on brew day, as well as the Bohemian quality of the beer that will leave you wanting more and more of this beer.  Groovy, man . . .

Sleepy Horse Cream Ale – Cream ale has long been a staple of American beer culture and was originally brewed as an ale alternative to the classic American lager.  The cream ale style was once prevalent in the United States, especially in the upper Midwest, and was also known as Common Beer or Present Use Ale.  It is one of the few American beer styles to survive Prohibition.  Genesee Cream Ale is a popular version of the style and hails from my hometown of Rochester, NY.  John seems fond of this beer because it helps get him through the numerous grass-cutting chores of summer, but has “more flavor” than other lawnmower beers.  The beer’s name comes from one of Mary’s horses, who had to be sedated for hideously expensive dental work during brew day.  The sleepy horse could have polished off several pints of this low hopped and easy-going beer after such an arduous visit from the vet.

Pissed Black Cat American Pale Ale – The pale ale style is one that has defined the American craft beer movement.  It originally came from England, where its slightly higher alcohol content and lighter color than traditional British milds and bitters made it very popular.  American brewers have made it their own by using citrus hop varieties, such as our use of Millennium and Centennial, higher hopping levels, and larger alcohol concentrations.  The beer’s name came from a pervious brew session, where John witnessed my neighbor’s black cat urinating on my smoker.  I hope she was not commenting on the quality of the dishes cooked on that smoker, or on the taste of this beer.

Smokin’ Wet Smoked American Amber Ale – Historically speaking, all beer would be considered “smoked” because the malted barley used to make beer was dried over wood fires.  The smoke from those fires would infuse the wet grain with different characteristics, depending on the type of wood used.  It was not until the 18th century, where kiln drying malt became prevalent, that smoky flavors became less common in beer.  One of the first batches of beer I brewed for John’s summer party was a smoked amber ale.  John was still trying to figure out how to properly carbonate kegged beer and half the keg was gone before the party even started because of his carbonation “experiments.”  I supposed it did not help that John enjoyed the beer so much.  In honor of that early batch, I have tried to create a beer to live up to John’s experimental standards.  The name comes from a rain storm that rolled through, unexpectedly, on brew day and soaked everyone and everything.  When the sun came back out, the steam coming off the deck gave rise to the beer’s name – Smokin’ Wet.

Midnight Breakfast Oatmeal Stout – Oatmeal stouts are derived from dry Irish stouts, though the addition of oatmeal in the grist provides a rounder and less edgy finish, which is often described as a “slick” feeling on the palate.  This style has long been a favorite of mine and it is the only beer that has been on tap at John’s party ever since I started brewing beer for it.  John has been using a stout tap to serve the oatmeal stout since 2008.  The stout tap uses a nitrogen/CO2 gas mix to carbonate the beer, which provides it with a rich and velvety finish and a dense foamy head.  The beer is dark as midnight, but the smell coming off the kettle on brew day reminds me of breakfast oatmeal.  Yum.

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