I've always been a bit envious of creative people. Some people can take a blank canvas and a brush and bring a portrait to life. Others can put pen to paper and spin a witty tale or clever verse. Some can pick up a musical instrument and speak to your very soul with the songs they conjure. Creative people can be found in so many different areas, bringing art and enrichment to lives of those around them.
I have never really been one of these people.
I, on the other hand, am more of a "logic guy". I tend to be task based, compartmentalizing life in an effort to get from point A to point B. That's not to say that I don't have certain skills; when dealing with a subject that interests me, I am thorough in preparation, I work to learn from the advice and experience of others, and I do diligently try to apply that knowledge to the job at hand. That being said, I've always been the sort of person to follow a blueprint, to apply known techniques to a problem. I can often see the big picture, and have been known to apply unique approaches to problem solving... but when push comes to shove, I have always been more analytical than creative.
Interestingly enough, brewing is one area in my life that I find this to not be the case. Oh, to be sure, I am still very analytical in my approach; I take precise measurements, I make meticulous notes, and I research brewing-related subjects to a nigh-obsessive degree. But despite my love for the science-y aspects of brewing, I have discovered (much to my surprise) that I apparently do have at least one creative bone in my body - at least when it comes to this hobby.
Different people have different goals when brewing. I find that most people seem to be interested in making consistently good beer, which is a fine target to have. I, on the other hand, find myself yearning to explore new avenues in the hopes of making not good, but rather outstanding beer.
The pattern is pretty well established by now. Sometime around the time I wrap up a given brew, I'll start to ponder what I want to brew next. If it's not a certain rebrew of a previous beer, I'll start letting my mind wander... without fail, the muse will strike. Some idea will grab me, and that will be that - I'll end up with tunnel vision around the idea, and I'll turn it over again and again in my head. I'll research the general style, I'll consult trusted brewer friends and the homebrewing community, I'll weigh the advice and incorporate or ignore it as the muse leads. My process is a little incongruent; I'll measure my temperatures precisely, I'll weigh out my brewing salts to a hundredth of a gram... and then, I'll toss in an extra pound of this malt or an extra ounce of that hop simply because it feels right to do so.
Understand, I don't pretend to be some groundbreaking revolutionary. I'm not interested in crazy, off the wall things like jalapeno pineapple saisons or fish egg stouts. What I am interested in is taking a normal, accepted style and pushing it in some way. I love complex flavors in beers that still manage to be drinkable, and this tends to frame most of my efforts. I enjoy bringing the idea to life, which often requires pushing some aspect in an abnormal direction.
Today's brew will be a roggenbier, which happens to be a style I have never even tasted. However, the muse has me in her grasp - I have this idea of a malty, spicy beer with big banana esters. From what I understand, roggenbiers are usually brewed to minimize banana, but I think that "spicy banana bread" as a beer is a great idea.
My suspicion is that this beer will either be amazing or it will be awful; I rather doubt that it will simply be "good". And honestly, I'm okay with either outcome.
My wife asked my why I would even brew something that I didn't know would turn out well. To her mind (like I've seen from many brewers), I should be making sure to brew good, drinkable beer every time. I explained to her that I'd rather take the risk and come up with something outstanding. I get the feeling that she doesn't agree.
I truly believe that, if money were no object and I was running a professional brewery of my own, I would brew some truly outstanding beers. I probably wouldn't be a commercial success, as I don't know how much of a market there is for oatmeal toffee stouts, malty IPAs with next to no bitterness but big English hop aromas, or spicy banana bread roggenbiers. But I would truly love to really let my muse out to play, to share these ideas with the world.
Odds are, that will never happen. In the meantime, I'll be happy simply sharing those brews with friends and coworkers; after all, I'm getting the chance to express creativity that I had long since decided that I didn't even possess.
Tags for this post: creativity, brewing, homebrewing, beer, roggenbier, recipes
I like your style.
posted by Mike on 8/10/2014 at 11:35:02 AM
You're more creative than you think! I'm now rolling ideas in my head about a fish egg stout. Oyster stouts are tasty, who knows what caviar could do!
posted by Charlie on 8/10/2014 at 01:16:43 PM
Egad, I have created a monster.
posted by homebrewadad on 1/10/2015 at 10:11:18 PM