Behind The Beer: Baked Buddies Blond Stout
Written by Scott Keys and Aaron Forrester, collectively known as Beers N Buddies
Craft Beer, it’s not what your grandfather drank, and depending upon your age, it’s likely not what your father drank either. Pale light lagers with little more than a mild tinge of sweetness no longer hold dominance over the palates of American beer drinkers. No, like the patriots of 1776, a revolution is currently underway to dethrone that King of Beer and replace it with full bodied ales and crafted lagers that push the boundaries of what beer can be. According to Ed Sipos, author of Brewing Arizona: A Century of Beer in the Grand Canyon State, “The extraordinary rise of craft beer can be directly attributed to one factor: the growing enthusiasm beer enthusiasts and home brewers have for fresh, hand-crafted, artisan-style beers.” Sipos is not wrong, but if you spend more than just a few minuets talking with craft beer enthusiasts, you will come to understand that it is so much more than just fine hand-crafted brews that define this revolution. At its core, craft beer is social, communal, and perhaps more than anything else, something that brings strangers together with a common purpose to create life-long friendships and bonds. Such was the case that brought us alongside Matt Trethewey and Greg Sorrels, co-owners of the Beer Research Institute in Mesa, Arizona.
In wanting to be a part of the revolutionary spirit that is the craft beer revolution, we ultimately collaborated together with the good folks at BRI to brew up a beer that has yet to be tested in Arizona: A Baked Alaskan inspired blonde stout. At the heart of this beer lies Aaron’s insatiable sweet tooth, and so this could not be just any blonde stout. After careful consideration and thought, all four of us decided to brew this blonde stout with notes of toasted marshmallows, vanilla, lactose, coca nibs, and whole coffee beans. In large part to the generosity of Matt and Greg, not only were we able to assist in this collaboration at BRI’s production facility, but we were also given the opportunity to clone the recipe on a homebrew system due, in large measure, to BRI’s willingness to adapt the recipe for a much smaller scale. Collaboration never tasted so sweet, and because BRI allowed us to be “as involved as we wanted to be,” we had the opportunity to feel like big boy brewers: adding the grain, hops, and yes, cleaning out the spent grain following the mash. Fun Times!
As delicious as the beer promises to be, the experience of brewing a beer with Matt, Greg and their team, was made sweeter because we developed more than just a beer that day. And, no, we are not referring to our upcoming documentary that we made about the whole experience. No, what made the experience so special was the spirit of brewing that pervaded the entire day; a spirit of comradery, community, and the willingness of both Greg and Matt to open about themselves and BRI, to invite us into their home, and to include us in their traditions. (Again, check out the documentary being released on the 4th of July) On that brew day, more than beer was made, lifelong friendships were forged as well, and this, arguably more than anything else, is what separates craft beer from fuzzy yellow water. As Matt from The Beer Research Institute made clear, brewing beer and opening a brewery allows for Matt to be Matt, no pretensions and no masks, and as a result, BRI is not just a laboratory for great brews, it is also a space where the very essence of the craft beer revolution is felt.
Experimentation and the desire to brew artisanal hand-crafted beer is what made ‘Baked Buddies Blonde Stout’ a reality. Yes, that is the name, and if you are lucky enough to be reading this sooner rather than later, go check out BRI on July 7, 2018 when it is released. But more importantly, it was craft beer that brought four strangers together into a space where both beer and friendship could thrive, and this is the heart of the craft beer revolution. It is a brotherhood and a sisterhood that promotes both libation and community together, and we are so grateful to have been given this opportunity with the fantastic team that makes up BRI. A team of passionate individuals who were brought together by craft beer. In closing, it seems only fitting to end with a phrase that we feel incapsulates the craft beer revolution in all of its forms: From our Beer, to Your Buddy, Cheers!