Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Brett's Beer

In Collins and Amabile’s article entitled Motivation and Creativity they discuss the timeless question of “what drives creativity?” For Chad Yakobson, drinking did. His love of beer pushed him to open a warehouse filled with beer barrels. However, Yakobson is not brewing beer like many others in the industry. He is taking beer back - a few thousand years.

Most brewers work very hard to avoid wild yeast in their beers by sterilizing all their equipment multiple times, putting an air-lock seal on the barrels, and testing them frequently. But Yakobson thought if humans have been brewing beer for millennium with wild yeast, why did modern brewers exclusively use commercial and domesticated yeasts?

Yakobson steered away from the common practice of avoiding wild yeast and decided to use them to ferment his beers. He used brettanomyces, a strain of wild yeast, that is unpredictable and can lead to funky beers. However, after months of experimenting, Yakobson learned to use the wild yeast, nick-named “Brett” to brew fantastic, flavorful, wild beers. What’s more, Brett doesn’t die once the brewing is complete like other yeasts. The flavor intensifies as the beer sits in the bottle, almost aging like wine, as the yeasts digest the complex sugars in the beer. 
In Lubart and Sternberg's article, An Investment Approach to Creativity: Theory and Data, he says a resource for creativity is the environmental context. Yakobson looked to clues from the past and in nature around him regarding fermentation instead of sticking to the mainstream and commercial use of domesticated yeast.

Yakobson opened the door for many other brewers who could experiment with wild yeast strains in their areas, allowing for complex and bold flavors that have never really existed in the beer world for hundreds of years. However, because this yeast is unpredictable and hard to control, wild beers will likely never be able to become as mainstreamed as domesticated beers. But for microbreweries and other small brewers all over the country, the use of wild yeast has created a whole new category of beers.

1 comment:

  1. In college, there is a culture that is centered around the reliable taste of commercial beers used to get very drunk very fast. However, there is a new interest brewing among young people in original, craft beers. Perhaps it derives from the quest to find the newest, best, most original thing, but either way, love of specialty beer is on the ride. For members of this craft beer-loving group, Yakobson's work will be Big-C creative. Though this method will most likely not become adopted by big beer companies such as Budweiser, Coors, or Miller, it may be paradigm-shifting for microbreweries. In relation to Howard's creativity triangle, Yakobson went the opposite way of the rest of the field, which is an interesting dynamic, but not uncommon among the eminent creatives we have been studying. Big beer companies with their sterile barrels may scoff at the wild yeast, but didn't other musicians scoff at the Rite of Spring? Like Stravinsky, Yakobson went back to his roots. Stravinsky incorporated ancient, tribal themes, and Yakobson used a yeast that made the ales of our ancestors. If the rest of Yakobson's career loosely follows Stravinsky's big beer companies may be in for a brewed awakening.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.