Defining our Beer
Over the course of our test batching days, we’ve made almost everything. “Juice Bomb” American IPA’s, infinitely drinkable Belgian styles, fruit beers, dark beers… if it exists in the American Craft Brewer’s repertoire somewhere in the US, we’ve tried our hands at it.
It’s one of the great joys of craft businesses like brewing, or baking, or owning a restaurant – we have the freedom to create and explore and try new things, and then to be surprised, pleasantly (or not, sometimes!) at the outcome.
For a business like a microbrewery, the product made is intrinsically tied to personality and image. This seems obvious, but consider a brewery like Allagash. If you've ever had their beers, you probably have a very good idea of who and what they are. They have mastered the “American Belgian,” style of beer, and continue to push the envelope of what that means. As a consumer, the mental image of the brewery and their product reflects this understanding.
These days, you can find a brewery that focuses on just about anything and everything - there's lots of people playing with barrel aging, lots of spots that get giddy over hops, breweries that brew exclusively lagers, breweries that brew exclusively ales, and even places that brew only with yeast from their "natural environment" (we just visited Jester King in Austin which is where this reference comes from...). There's also tons of places that dabble in everything and produce some truly wonderful beers that fall all over the spectrum.
Its taken some time to find our niche, especially since we really try not to discriminate - we love drinking and brewing just about every style of beer. However, after years of playing with various ingredients and techniques, there's a clear winner for what we like to focus on the most, and that is perhaps the most important ingredient of all: the yeast.
Since we have a trio of scientists behind the helm (or wannabe scientists depending who you're talking to), it seems only fitting that we pay credit to the true brewer in the beer making process. We want to concentrate on yeast, and play with unique strains in ways that are a bit out of the ordinary. Expect to see lots of 100% Brett fermented beers, as well as lots of wild yeasts, spontaneous fermentations, yeasts isolated from fruits, and more traditional brewing yeasts used in non-traditional ways. We will, of course, be incorporating all of the other facets of brewing, but our main focus is in utilizing the yeasts themselves, and exploring the nuances of flavor that they can contribute. Bring on the lab work! (if you saw our current apartment, you would think we're running a meth facility - don't tell our landlady)
However, don't take this to mean that we're looking to be totally out there and unapproachable - we love sours, we love funk, and we love unique flavor profiles, but we also love tasty, drinkable beers that you can sit down and enjoy. We don’t think these two things have to be mutually exclusive. Just because a beer has Brett in it, doesn't mean it has to be a barrel aged beast that tastes of goat and funk. (In fact, some strains of Brett don't make the characteristic "barnyard" flavors at all when used in a primary fermentation, but rather add notes of pineapple, pear, and apple - this can play really nicely with juicy hops, and add a slight complexity that might not be achievable with saccharomyces cerevisiae - more traditional brewer's yeast). Yeast is an amazing tool in a brewer's arsenal, and one that we're really excited to pay proper tribute too.
On that note, let's get down to the nitty gritty; we plan on having two tasty beers for wide distribution. The first is a 100% Brett Fermented IPA, in the tradition of the New England style "Juice Bomb" IPA, but with a unique tropical twist from the choice of yeast. The second is an Amber Ale / Belgian Strong hybrid, which is loaded with stone fruit, plum and dark malt flavors, and has hints of nut and spice. Its fermented with two yeast strains, which allows us to pull out different flavors than those traditionally found in these styles.
We'll have another 5-6 rotating styles in the taproom, and this will be a testing ground for a variety of funky and fun items. We're excited to play with mash and kettle souring, and to get a barrel program up and running quickly. We want to introduce interesting flavors through our combinations of hops, malt, yeast, and adjuncts, and compliment traditional styles while adding some depth and complexity. We're love the idea of having a "Tea Time" line devoted to mixing tea with traditional styles (think Chamomile Wheat and Earl Grey Saison), and are looking forward to experimenting with local MA fruit (and the yeast that's on it) when the season comes. We want to put cold brew coffee into something other than a porter or stout (we're currently experimenting with a cold brew coffee berliner weisse), and hope to have a few taps where we can showcase the effect of different yeasts on the same recipe of hops and malts.
Basically, our goal is to make beer that you’ve never had anywhere else (or at least that you can't find very easily), but beer that is still drinkable and enjoyable. We want use traditional styles as a launching point, and add complexity and depth with our choice of yeast and ingredients. We hope that this way when you see the name Lamplighter on a menu or label, you’ll have a pretty good idea that you’re in for something fun.
AC + Cayla