There are two ways to make beer; adding or subtracting.
With homebrewing on temporary hiatus, I am taking the opportunity to reflect on the past and prepare for the future of Third Leap Brewing & Blending. And since the soul of Third Leap is, of course, beer, I felt it worthwhile to specifically conceptualize the future of our beers.
Over the last eight years, I have brewed nearly 200 batches of beer but seldom repeated recipes. And since our shift to primarily utilizing local ingredients and ambient microflora, we have rebrewed recipes even less frequently. Despite some benefits – experimentation with new ingredients and techniques – it has pulled us in many different directions. In an effort to refocus Third Leap, I have been fixed on subtraction.
Brasserie d’Orval epitomizes subtraction – they brew only one beer for distribution called Orval Trappist Ale. By producing a single beer, the brewery can strip away distractions and focus solely on intention; they can perfect the beer. In this regard, I envy Brasserie d’Orval. But it will be some years before I can realize my ultimate subtraction goal – producing a 100% estate beer featuring water, malt, hops, and ambient microflora from my own land. In the meantime, I intend to make strides toward purposeful subtraction at Third Leap.
The first step is streamlining the number of beers brewed at Third Leap. For this, I went back to basics.
Several years ago, I briefly wrote about my vision for the flagship beer at Third Leap:
I have always envisioned the flagship of Third Leap to be a rustic, old-world saison (aka farmhouse ale). Buried deep within my mind is the vision of a refreshing, moderately bitter, deep golden ale with fruit, spice, earth, floral, and barnyard elements, mild tartness and a very dry finish.
This vision first manifested itself as Farm Bière (a recipe originally inspired by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Bam Bière) and evolved over time into recipes such as Collaboration #1 and Harvey 2018. Simplifying the recipe will ultimately yield a balanced yet complex mountain beer, affectionately named Third Leap.
But there are times when I still crave many of the individual elements of Third Leap, where intensity pulls the beer ever so slightly out of balance – elements such as fruit, barnyard, bitterness, and dryness. Each of these elements will become the basis for the four other beers I intend to brew.
My admiration for fruit stems from several memorable beers that I had the fortune to taste in recent years such as de Garde Brewery The Nectarine, Casey Brewing & Blending/Side Project Brewing Leaner, Jester King Brewery Atrial Rubicite, Russian River Brewing Company Framboise For A Cure, and Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon Fou’ Foune & Lou Pepe Framboise. The common denominator among all of these beers is bold, jammy fruit flavor and noticeable, restrained acidity. Inspired from these new world sour ales comes Wilde, a fruity wild mountain beer.
Lambic and gueuze hold a special place in my heart, and these beers are instantly identifiable for their potent Brettanomyces barnyard aroma and flavor. Hollambic and LambID were my Belgian-inspired interpretations of spontaneous beer, produced in Massachusetts and Idaho, respectively. Early success lead to brewing spontaneous beer annually, with intentions of shifting the majority of brewing to these styles. Locale will be the latest incarnation of funky spontaneous mountain beer once I have implemented several recipe modifications.
Many Third Leap recipes over the past three years have been yeast-centric but deep down I am still very much a hop head. I was fortunate to live most of my adult life in Massachusetts where I had access to hazy New England IPAs like The Alchemist Brewery Heady Topper, Tree House Brewing Company Julius, and Trillium Brewing DDH Fort Point. These beers inspired Back East, my most recent NEIPA recipe, and pending several simplifications, will epitomize juicy tropical mountain IPA.
Dry, session beers are rapidly becoming a favorite of mine, particularly in the summer months. Fortunately, many craft breweries are now churning out crisp lagers as once extreme beer palettes return to normalcy. Particularly interesting to me is one of the new BJCP experimental styles, New Zealand pilsner – cousin to German pils showcasing southern hemisphere hops. Despite never tasting an authentic NZ pilsner and only ever brewing one lager, Down Under will be my homage to crispy little mountain pilsners.
Future blog posts will detail my intentions for each of the five recipes; Third Leap, Wilde, Locale, Back East, and Down Under.