As an independent brewer, new or established, relevance is always key, and one of the main ways to remain relevant is to always give people something new to try. As a small brewer, we are trying to maintain a balance of bringing core range beers to the market, while also producing small batches to showcase what Reckless represents. We have been brewing commercially now for just over 18 months and in that time we have released seven beers, including our first collab beer with Akasha Brewing. None of us can rest on our laurels, as the drinkers appetite is constantly evolving. Reckless Brewing is no different here, so come behind the scenes as we detail our process as we design, brew and release our eighth beer.
I get really excited at this time of year, the humidity falls and the temperatures become bearable. Winter is coming, and it's now that breweries tend to showcase darker beers, which vary from solid examples of stouts and porters, holding true to style, all the way to novelty dessert beers introducing wild and unique new flavours. So with that in mind, we have decided to brew a stout. But what sort? I would say the spectrum for a stout is potentially one of the widest of all styles.
I am a big fan of beers all across this spectrum. But where does a Reckless Stout fit?
Our mantra is our namesake - to be adventurous, but not stupid, or as a review by a bottleshop summed up perfectly, ‘[Reckless] is not trying to redefine the style, but represent it to perfection’.
So we want to brew a Stout, close to its traditional style, that represents Reckless Brewing. It must be approachable, easy to drink, full of flavour, and leaving the drinker moorish for another. Easy? Sure!
So now it’s time to deliver our requirements to our Head Brewer, Grace, to develop the recipe. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Grace’s ability to taste a recipe, and understand the co-mingling of flavours, both positive and negative, is a major part of Reckless’s success to date. So Alice, Grace and I sit down - with an array of local stouts, and taste test as we describe to each other what we think a perfect stout is all about, and Grace has the monumental task of turning this into another amazing beer. I want it to have low bitterness and be hop forward, Alice wants the beer to have some sweetness, without the addition of sugars. Grace has a certain hop variety that she thinks would balance delightfully on her roasted base. We all want the beer to be creamy, silky, but crisp, so that the drinker wants another. Grace has already had a few trials on our pilot system at the farm, so we already know we have a great recipe, but perfection could be the smallest of tweaks away.
For the next few days I watch as Grace writes down a few hops, and where they are added, and what combinations of barley and oats she desires. She walks away, and in a few hours time, comes back and changes a hop variety, adds to the dry hop, and changes one of the roasted malts. Again, she comes back in a little while and changes it again. Over the course of the week, she has made about 30 revisions, but now she has a smile on her face. “That’s the one!” she quips. Obviously, the next day she makes a final tweak to the dry hop ratios and puts the pen down.
There is extra reason to make sure this one absolutely nails it. Reckless Brewing lost it’s number one supporter recently when Alice’s father passed away, and this was meant to be his beer. So for those in the know, we have added a little ode to Jeff on the label, and I am sure he would have drunk more than his fair share.
So we have our killer recipe, but just as important is the quality of the brew process, the label designs, and the marketing and hype. As a small contract brewer, we brew out of Akasha, and we do this for one reason, quality. Over the years, Akasha has demonstrated its consistency and quality above all else. Of course we are biased here, as Grace is also employed by Akasha and has learned everything from Dave!
So now it comes to the label design. We tell the team over at Yeah! Rad. what the beer is, the recipe, the vibe we want surrounding it. As usual the team kills the design at first go. It helps that over our 2 year relationship, they know Reckless as well as we know ourselves. We haggle back and forth on a few symbols and the colours, but the style is spot on. So the can labels and tap decals go off to the printers.
There are always the boring bits (Regulatory) for brewers when we brew and release a new beer. We have to register the packaging for the recycling schemes (If you are a nationwide brewery - every state and territory has its own scheme with its own fees, policies and processes, urgh!). We have to work out and pay the alcohol excise up front, and make sure our designs don’t attract the ire of ABAC (Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code).
Now what’s left is the marketing and hype. We need to let the industry know that we have a new beer coming, and that it’s a seasonal brew, so stock is limited. We recently hired a full time sales manager as we really push to expand Reckless Brewing throughout NSW and make everyone aware that we exist. As we are publishing this article, we have already pre-sold three quarters of the volume, so we are looking to get this beer into as many places at the same time as possible. There’s no secret that this story is part of that process, as well as Instagram, Facebook, Crafty Pint and many other social and traditional media platforms.
As we get closer to the release date we will let you know where you can go to get your hands on one of these guys, or you can pre order a case right now! And perhaps you’ll see us around as we raise a glass to a dear friend, and celebrate another step forward for Reckless Brewing.