The endless ways in which this topic can be approached is remarkable. The title of the article itself is an act of redundancy, in that the words “art” and “craft” can be so wonderfully interchangeable. The process of brewing beer is a science of ingredients, time, temperature, and pressure. So much so that a slight change in any of these factors can dramatically change the outcomes of the product. Paradoxically, the same exact ingredients, brewed with the same exact time, temperatures, and pressures, brewed in two different geographic locations can yield two distinctly different products. What does all this mean..? Only that, no matter how many books you read about the science of brewing beer, craft beer brewing is invariably the most artistic expression of the love one has for the science of brewing beer.
When developing any one of 75+ beer styles every brewer must start with the ingredients and there are only four: Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Water. As simple as that sounds, there are dozens of books on each of these individual ingredients as they relate to their use in the brewing process. Once you have chosen your desired style, then comes the “Art” because within each style there is an unbounded variety of combinations and variations in each of the ingredient categories. While there are certain malts (some base malts, and some specialty) you would use for a specific style, the amount of each malt variety can change based on a myriad of interconnected characteristics: flavor, color, body, mouthfeel, and aroma.
After the malts are chosen, you must choose the yeast that is correct for the particular style. Again, this is based on a wide variety of factors: flavor, mouthfeel, aroma, clarity, attenuation, and alcohol content. If any of these characteristics do not meet your desired outcome, another yeast strain can be selected and another batch can be brewed. Keep in mind that every change you make to any one ingredient takes anywhere from 14-30 days to realize the change. It is also important to note that with any yeast strain, you can also make changes to temperatures during fermentation, which can also offer some beneficial changes to the final product.
Arguably the most exciting ingredient in the model practice of brewing are the hops. Traditionally, hops have been used in the brewing process primarily for balancing the bitterness of a beer based on its style, not for overall flavor profile. However, recently hops and the process by which they are used has dramatically changed beer making. Not only has there been an explosion of new hop varieties, through cross breeding and genetic modification, but brewers have been experimenting with new ways to use the hops. When you add the hops to the boil can dramatically affect your flavor and bitterness, as well as, how much you add to beer during fermentation to again enhance the flavor and texture of the beer. This process is called dry-hopping and Engkanto uses this practice to give the beer a citrusy aroma and taste, while adding a juicy body and mouthfeel.
Any brewer would tell you that the water used in the brewing process is the quiet game changer. The delicate balance of a water profile can dramatically change the outcome of your beer so much that some beer styles were created because of the geographical region in which they were brewed. Water is such a pivotal ingredient in the brewing process that breweries will strip their raw water of all natural minerals through reverse osmosis and rebuild the water to match specific water from different areas of the world using minerals and salts. In order to be as authentic to the styles that we chose to brew, Engkanto uses this exact process, demonstrating the interconnectedness of science and art when developing a beer.
With that idea in mind, we began the trial and error process that is imperative in any brewing endeavor. Over the course of 18 months we brewed each intended flagship style over a dozen times changing one variable per batch until we crafted each beer to be what it was imagined to be. I spent much of those 18 months in the Philippines learning about the culture and experiencing the filipino cuisine. Understanding the palate of the Filipino people was paramount in choosing and artistically crafting the appropriate styles for the market. Once we knew that each flagship beer was exactly what we had imagined, we began the process to scale the recipes up in volume. While the art and craft of the process was over, the new challenge was to use the science of brewing to ensure the art would still resonate at larger volumes.