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Rogue Won

We are moving into unfamiliar territory. The future is now completely unpredictable, perplexing, somewhat scary and unsettling. The path now seems hopelessly altered, convoluted and near futile. What are we to do? The very fabric of our earth has unraveled and become tied into a menagerie of knots, frayed ends and entangled snarls. I’m feeling uneasy, for there is a ceaseless juggernaut that approaches and will soon overwhelm us. My only peace comes when I stare into the unknowable nebulous quagmire of the abyss, and no voice has urged me to jump. Yes, beer brewing has changed. Forever.

You all know how old I am (or put another way, how young I am not). One of my claims to success is that I’ve managed to work in this industry a long time. It’s been fun and very interesting to be sure. Occasionally something happens that I just don’t understand. I hope the coming new year will bring clarity. Let’s begin with experimental beers.

American craft brewers are simply the best at experimental beers. Why? I believe it’s a combination of qualities, or idiosyncrasies if you like. Until the ‘80s beer brewing globally was a lot like welding (not sculpture–welding). There were only two outcomes: correct and incorrect. Sure there are multiple welding techniques, but the outcome is still the same–metal meets metal. Don’t get me wrong, I like welding. Wish I could do it. Brewing used to be more black and white. There were a few techniques, variability in ingredients and a little interpretation. The beer was, for the most part, really good. Aspiring brewers learned proper technique from a “master” who taught from a rigid blueprint that did not allow for alterations. There was but one outcome. We were welding. Not anymore. I recently made a Gose–a practically extinct beer that never gained success outside of its birth place. I added some hibiscus, prickly pear and voila! People loved it. IPA’s infused with blood oranges and grapefruit are all the rage. Peanut butter, chocolate and Stout? Forget about it. What’s next?

We’re working on a New England Style IPA right now. What the hell is that? It’s a specific variation of IPA with no bitterness but excessively hopped to impart hop oils and aromatics. In other words, hop juice with alcohol. It’s very cloudy by intention, lacks bitter hops and is made with non-flocculating yeast. I should also mention that I don’t know how to make one–but that won’t stop me. It will be fun and hopefully folks will like it. This leads me to the next fog in beer land… Trading.

I really do try and maintain an overview of trends in beer land, but I must confess, I’ve completely missed this phenomenon and still do not really understand it. People are buying beer, not to drink or collect, but to trade? Really? My awakening to this new ripple in the beer force was both overwhelming and gratifying. We bottled a couple of kegs of some vintage barrel aged Peanut Butter Porter and “released” the beer at 5pm on a Friday. By 3:30pm there were enough people lined up in the brewery to sell all of it in a matter of minutes. We were totally caught off guard. I take the blame. I discovered that “X” amount of “Y” beer will get you two bottles of the Peanut Butter Porter, and vice versa–like trading baseball cards. Apparently this has been going on for a while. I have to admit that I’ve been left scratching my head a little, but it’s pretty cool. So I’m board with the new hotness–the New England Style IPA. Hopefully our patrons will like it enough to buy a bottle or two. Perhaps it will be so well liked that traders will completely forego the bothersome and outdated tradition of drinking it (relax–I jest)! Look for a New England Style IPA soon.

Finally, I see yet one more unknown quantity as I gaze into my shattered crystal beer ball. I have been honored once again to help plan local beer events with the Beer City Brewers Guild. Hop Stock was, on balance, a successful event last year. That’s really good for a first time event, but I want to change things–drastically I hope. Now the shoe is on the other foot and I get to be the harbinger of unrest in beer land. I get to spin the wheel of chaos for a change! For this, you’ll just have to stay tuned. Man–do I wish I could weld.

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B.O.B.'s Brewery
B.O.B.'s Brewery


20 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Sun - Wed: Closed
Thu: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri: 5:00pm - 12:00am
Sat: 5:00pm - 12:00am