Craft beer is creative; how a craft brewery could be creative

The last 2 posts were about how help and inspiration could manifest in a craft brewery. Creativity, the last of my 3 core principles, is an easy one to describe.

We often think of creativity in terms of the arts. Not many people would disagree when a particular musician, painter, or poet is described as being creative.

On the other hand, I think some people would balk if I were to describe, say, a carpenter, a jeweler, or a furniture maker as creative. Yet these people are creating.

creative [krē āt’iv]

adj. 1. creating or able to create 2. having or showing imagination and artistic or intellectual inventiveness: creative writing

(Webster’s New World College Dictionary)

I think humans have an innate desire to create. If nothing else matters, our sole purpose is to procreate. In today’s modern world, if you’re reading this, you probably have all of your basic needs pretty well taken care of. We have time to waste thinking of higher endeavors.

The arts and creativity distinguish groups of people from one another. Our creations define our cultures. We pass time with creativity. Our lives are enriched by creativity.

I admire creativity and I aspire to it.

Craft beer is creative with packaging

One way that a craft brewery can be creative is through packaging, labeling and marketing.

Creativity can be expressed in a nifty logo, a quaint story behind the product, or a neat atmosphere at the taphouse.

In today’s market, all of these things are important. It takes more thought to create something special.

I especially like the design on 21st Amendment Brewery’s cans.

21st Amendment Brewery, Hell Or High Watermelon

21st Amendment Brewery, Hell Or High Watermelon

Rather than a simple front and back label like most other cans and bottles, 21st Amendment’s cans are printed with original artwork that wraps around the entire can.

I imagine the pieces came from wall-sized canvas or murals. It really seems that way.

And it’s fun. I enjoy inspecting the artwork on the can while studying the beer in my mouth.

Craft beer is creative with recipes

Another way that a craft brewery can be creative is through the beer itself.

All sorts of funky beers are coming out these days. I previously touched on the creativity that has been driving the craft beer market. Dogfish Head takes creative recipes to another level.

It’s one thing to sit around contemplating what kind of ingredients you can throw in a kölsch. Dogfish Head’s “Ancient Ales” series, based on ancient recipes, incorporates history, archaeology, and agronomy into the modern brewing process.

Beer recipes were based on chemical analysis of pottery and drinking vessels at archeological sites. “Midas Touch” uses ingredients found in a vessel from King Midas’ tomb. “Chateau Jiahu” uses ingredients from Neolithic pottery jars in Henan province, China.

Dogfish Head used to get a lot of criticism for their interesting beer ingredients, like honey, saffron, and flowers. When they were starting in the mid-1990s, most beer was made with the 4 ingredients prescribed by the German law of beer purity from the year 1516.

“Long before the tradition of the Reinheitsgebot, the tradition was: whatever grows and you can access that’s awesome, use it to brew,” Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione said in 2011 at TEDxPennQuarter.

“Long before beer had been homogenized and made monochromatic, every culture around the world brewed beers with whatever was beautiful and natural and indigenous and grew under the ground that they lived on.”

It’s not as simple as copying some dead guy’s recipe from 2,700 years ago. Archeology depends on a lot of inference. The palate of today’s beer drinker is different from the Chinese of 9,000 years ago.

A lot of creativity is involved. It’s pretty neat. And the beers taste good, too. Thanks for sharing your recipe, King Midas.

I guess it’s no wonder that Sam’s book, Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, is the most recommended book from the guests of MicroBrewr podcast.

What do you think is the most creative brewery today? Let me know in the comments below.


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    Drinks beer, quit his job, planning to start a brewery. I try to write every week about something in my life relating to my pursuit to start a brewery. Topics include: entrepreneurship, beer, leadership, and productivity.