From the beginning we have sought to brew experiences and have never really cared about styles. The style we list on a package is somewhat a necessary evil that functions as a lighthouse for the consumer so you know what you are getting into. This is a recurrent theme in my writings and speeches. Lady Luck is a perfect example of this, where we were simply seeking to create an homage to Bordeaux wine. We first labeled Lady Luck as an Irish Red because I thought traditional brewing methods would properly place Lady there, and the idea that it was craft beer would alert the imbiber that we might explore the boundaries of a style. However, we quickly learned that the consumer was preloaded with a completely different expectation of what an (Americanized) Irish Red could/should be, and thus dissonance arose in their drinking experience. Nothing frustrates me more than a person seeking new art, and when new artistic interpretation is presented the seeker is up in arms because it’s different from what they expected….that doesn’t make an ounce of sense to me.
In craft brewing, the beer revolution started with the brewers pushing the boundaries in favor of that they felt should exist. The brewer would dream up fantastical adventures and take great risks in doing so. The consumer was slow to rise to this stimulus at first, but once awake developed a voracious appetite for destruction. Destruction of normalcy was embroidered on every standard and screamed at every hill charged. New and crazy was no longer limited to a few times per year, but demanded as a never-ending festival…which we are honored to provide, and make a career out of the pursuit. I guess my point is a simple observation of the irony of demanding varied interpretations and concurrently being upset when things don’t taste like the preconceived notion of experience according to a style. Being technically sound and jiving with your preferences are two very different things.
Anywho, back to Lady Luck– we eventually changed the style (not the recipe) to Imperial Red Ale because the addition of “Imperial” should be a direct indicator that a brewer is doing a supercharged version of whatever style follows Imperial. Even then we discovered some folks thought Imperial means super hoppy….so we lose again. More than once we have had a keg returned because a retailer thought we mislabeled the brew. In any event, we will work harder at messaging because communication is paramount in any relationship, and I would hope that folks see every pint as a new adventure. Even if it is a familiar beer you are gaining new life perspective with every passing day, and you are interpreting the world in that moment differently. If you happen to order a new beer- enjoy it for what’s in the glass, and maybe pause a few beats before worrying about classifying it.
That was a heck of a tangent…I guess that’s what blogs are for. I think I was trying to explain how TL:M came about in the first place and my fingers wandered off. The connection is that two summers ago I was on the beach with my sons roasting marshmallows for s’mores, and I was taking a heap of mental photographs. I wanted that moment burned into my brain (and heart). I was at peace with everything in the world. Later that year I decided I wanted to share that memory with the world and decided to brew a S’mores Stout. After a quick web search I found that I wasn’t the first craft brewer to think that would make a great beer, but my memory is unique and I sought to make our process unique. This year is the third time we have brewed TL:M and while the recipe is still being tweaked one thing remains the same: we hand roast all of our mallows. We decided to turn it into an annual event for the staff. We try to run a shorter production day, set up a fire pit in the back parking lot, order an irresponsible amount of pizza, and enjoy all the obscure beers we have collected over the past year. Families, friends, and loved ones join in. This year we had 30lbs of marshmallows to roast and it took several hours. I love the camaraderie and the new memories. My boys are old enough to hold their own roasting sticks now, and generally eat most of the marshmallows they roast. The marshmallows are added straight to the kettle, joining the honey, blackstrap molasses, lactose, and pure liquid cacao. The grain bill is the most complex recipe we make all year. More than “being worth it”, it is a privilege to be able to call the process my job.
We hope you get a chance to enjoy a pint or three. We should also have a nitro version in the taproom that makes it super creamy as well. Don’t miss it!