Is Brewing Science more Important than the Art?(Is there a movement towards Art?)

Brewing an artBrewing Science Or Brewing Art?
Which is more important?

I have always been of the belief that brewing science is paramount to producing an excellent beer.

After all, if you don’t understand what you are making and how to make it how can you succeed? And with my training in a large brewery this may well be the case.

But I now believe it is more complex than that.

With the advent of the craft brewing industry taking hold around the world there is a second element that may well be as important as the science itself. And that is, the art or expression of ones artistic flair.

I recently wrote an article (“when is craft beer not craft beer”) about the craft beer movement’s distaste of the larger breweries who seem, on the surface, to produce beers that are apparently quite plain in flavour with little variation.

It seems that these same brewers have cashed in on the success of the smaller, independent craft brewer who has made locally produced beers with much flavour and variety.

What got me thinking more about this subject was a recent article about Fabian Oefner who shares breathtaking images at the nexus of art and science, which beautifully capture unique moments of physical and chemical drama.

One such picture (The Black Hole), illustrated above, shows how art can meld with science to produce this wonderful array of colour and patterns.

You could be forgiven to think it looks like a part of a Star Trek movie, with incredibly vivid colours as seen from the Enterprise starship as it zooms past.

How did he do it. For those that are interested in this phenomenon you can see the video presentation here. Well worth a see!

I was completely transformed in my view of things, including brewing.

I think when it comes to brewing the science sets the foundation to brewing consistent beer and when melded with the artistic flair of of the brewer then an incredible creation can be made.

It appears that the creativity of many craft brewers is already evident. Many creations are there from simple APA’s to the more exotic sours, barley wines and now beers with different adjuncts like rye, sorghum, cassava, corn and rice etc.

Like an artist these ingredients, available on the brewer’s palate, are creeping into the arsenal of the brewer to work with .

But what about the science? Just like Oefner’s Black Hole the beauty can’t be possible without the science.

More and more craft brewers are realising this and perhaps we need to amalgamate both ends of the spectrum where the big companies aim for perfection (the science) and the small craft brewer aim for variety and interest (the art).

At a Good Beer Week event, a couple of years ago, I was presented with some fantastic beers from Nøgne ø, the Norweigen brewer who has a former chef as the main brewer to dream up their creations. The artistic side surely comes to the fore.

So if you have a flair for the art you have a good start in brewing. The only question remaining is whether you have the right information to creating good, consistent beer.