One thing I’m sure everyone wants to know is what kind of beer we’ll be brewing. Initially this was a hard question for us to answer because there are so many possibilities! We did know that we didn’t want to be a brewery that brews any and all beer styles. We would much rather pick one area to focus on and do it really, really, really well instead of doing a lot of different things that are “pretty good.”
The next thing we thought about was the types of beers that are already out there. Right now is probably the best time ever to be a beer drinker in America. There are loads of high-quality, interesting beers that are (relatively) widely available. Our craft brewing culture is the envy of beer lovers worldwide. Breweries in Europe are now being influenced by us, instead of the other way around! In order to stand out from the many other excellent breweries out there, it’s important to be different. I personally love a great IPA or pale ale, but there’s so many of them already! The same thing with a lot of the big American styles – imperial red, imperial stout, imperial IPA – anything with “imperial” in the name has probably been beaten to death, or nearly so, by craft brewers. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with those styles, or that we don’t enjoy drinking them (we do) but there’s not too much else you can do with those styles as a brewer that hasn’t already been done.
A beer genre that we think hasn’t been fully explored, especially in the Southeast, is Belgian-style beer. Luckily for us, that’s what we like to drink the most! At the recent Brewgrass festival in Asheville, NC, it seemed like maybe 10% of the taps were pouring a Belgian style, and most of those were traditional wit bier/white beer. There was also only one (by my count) sour beer in the whole festival! We love sour/funky beers and we think there should be a lot more of them. So clearly, there’s a lot of room here.
One thing we really like about Belgian-style beer is that there really are no rules and no limit to the crazy stuff you can do with them. Barrel aging, wild fermentation, blending, herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables – bring it on! Another thing that we’ve noticed is that Belgian styles seem to be very accessible to people who think they “don’t like beer,” especially wine drinkers. There’s nothing better than giving a saison or a tripel to a Chardonnay drinker and watching their face light up after the first sip. Belgian style beers also go very well with food, and with the proper glassware they look great on the table too.
So there you have it. To sum up, here’s what you can expect from Westbrook Brewing: world-class quality beers, generally in the Belgian category, that are interesting, creative, and exciting.