Over the past couple of months I’ve had a number of craft beer related experiences that increased my appreciation of the American craft beer community. One type of experience that stands out and relates to this article is the ease of contacting and catching up with craft brewers that I’ve met over the past few years. Added to this experience is the ease existing despite having taken an almost two year hiatus from beer blogging. One of those brewers is Chris Wilson, the brewmaster of Weyerbacher Brewing Company (Easton, PA).
My relationship with Chris began in August of 2010 when I visited his brewery to take a tour and film a video for my blog which was at that time called Craft Brew Advocate. After a great tour and tasting Chris generously gave my brother and I some beers and glassware to take home. Most importantly I left with a greater appreciation for all the hard work that goes into Weyerbacher beers. During the last months of my blogging on Craft Brew Advocate I kept in touch with Chris off and on until a few weeks ago when my older brother brought up the idea to go on a beer trip Weyerbacher Brewing Co. to celebrate his birthday. So after getting in touch with Chris and confirming that the date and time that my brother and I could visit the brewery worked for Chris, it was time to see what had changed there since our 2010 visit.
Instead of going on a formal tour i.e. going in order of the brewing process from one area of the brewery to the next, we chose the order based on things that had changed at or been added to the brewery since our previous visit. For example, upon arriving at the brewery my brother and I parked out back and immediately saw the outside of the new expansion space (still under construction). As such, after Chris told us that they were brewing their Tripel called Merry Monks and that the barrels straight ahead of us had Riserva in them, we went to take a look at the expansion space. Interestingly enough we ended up going from sampling a beer to walking around the brewery then back to sampling (drinking) where we paused for the above interview. Then back to walking around, and finally tasting a couple more beers before rounding up some Weyerbacher beers and merchandise to take home.
Without going into too much detail about the above interview I’d like to share one message that I took away from the way Chris explained his approach to brewing. While American brewers have clearly been influenced by the brewing traditions of countries such as Belgium, England, and Germany; the beers brewed in the US represent a new innovative form of brewing genius which has in its somewhat short history begun to go full circle and influence craft brewing worldwide. To me this gives legitimacy to styles such as American Wild Ale, American Double / Imperial Stout, and Belgian Strong Dark Ale etc., which by definition show that a brewer has been inspired by traditional beer styles and added his or her own creative touch to bring forth new flavors and levels of complexity. So to give this message a slogan I’d say that “American craft brewing represents a creative balance between tradition and innovation.” Cheers!