Art and Science: The Tale of Two Beers

When doing the 40/40 Tour, I came across two distinct type of brewers. The artists and the scientists.

The artists approached beer-making as a creative enterprise, learning the science when necessary to ensure a healthy brew yet being willing to try a lot of different styles and ingredients. Tends to lead to either great or bad beers…not much in-between.  The scientists were the nuts and bolts types. Equipment, inventory, and execution of a pre-ordained style was the order of command. Closed circuited as compared to open-ended. Call it Belgian (the creatives) vs. the Germans (the engineers). In term of beer types, ales vs. lagers, top vs bottom fermenting yeasts, and fermenting temps of warmer vs. cooler. Creativity vs. Consistency.

The photo above shows the results of the scientific versus the artistic approach in my estimation. That both beers are made by Iron Hill shows that it is indeed possible to be artistic and scientific under the same brewroof.

On the left, is the Dunkleweisen.


OG: 1.060   Color: 17   IBU: 13.5   Alc by Vol: 6.3%

Traditional dark German wheat beer with a huge fruity nose of banana and cloves from the Bavarian ale yeast. German specialty malts add notes of unsweetened chocolate and caramel.The darker nature of the lager wheat beer is just toasting the grains longer…kind of like slice of bread in the toaster. Iron Hill also brews the Belgian Witbier on the right.

Belgian Witbier

OG: 1.048   Color: 3   IBU: 17   Alc by Vol: 4.4%  Pale, unfiltered Belgian-style wheat beer. Although light-bodied, it has complex orange citrus and spice flavors that are very refreshing. In terms of ingredients, both beers  have a wheat base; it is fairly typical for brewers to also use barley with the wheat too but I don’t know the recipes here in terms of proportions. However, the results from the techniques really shows the differences on the drinking side. Like the Robert Frost poem, there are two paths presented and manifested here, and I most definitely prefer the road less taken…the Belgian Witbier Ale. The Dunkleweizen just lacked spirit. It tasted not much different than Bud or Miller. Light lagers rule the crib in the U.S. beer-making industry, but there are ales in the nursery starting to make some noise. There are several microbreweries that do a great job with German-styled beers. One that comes to mind is Stoudts in Adamstown. Several others like Union Barrelworks in Reamstown and Golden Avalanche in Kutztown too. It must be the lingering German heritage in the lagering. I just didn’t sense that the Dunkleweizen was anything special. Pencil-necked geek beer. The Belgian Witbier just had enough wildness in it to be fun.  I know from personal homebrewing experience, that Wits are literally explosive…just as it is dangerous to dream. BTW, we had a head to head match up between my Belgian Wit and Troegs Dreamweaver Wit and the unanimous choice was mine among four of us.  Although I lost about 1/5 of my stock to explosion, the remaining bottles have been all the better for the chaos. Dreamier than the Dreamweaver, that is something to crow about! When I did a preview of this post, the formatting was all screwy…got to make do. Not worth stressing trying to figure out what is going. I have to let it rip like a creative…

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