Friday, June 4, 2010

Small is Beautiful

There is a Dutch saying, "klein maar fijn," which essentially means "small but awesome." Aside from the fact that Creek is half Dutch and so is our name (well the name is all the way Dutch), this saying resonates perfectly....especially for our brewing philisophy. Ok, it's also an economic theory about appropriate technologies articulated by E. F. Schumacher in the 1970s, but that works too.

What is a nanobrewery you ask? - well since most of the microbreweries have gotten pretty darn big, lots of small craft brewers are springing up making small batches - sometimes less than 1BBL. For the not as hardcore beer folks, a US barrel of beer is 31 gallons. There are enough nanobreweries that the TTB, the Federal Folks who deal with beer have even paid attention to the nanobrewery craft brewing trend. Basically there is no specific volume-based definition, but the TTB defines them as "very small brewery operations." It seems that the niche has opened up because the definition for microbrewery has expanded (according to wikipedia): "By definition, a microbrewery was originally considered to be a brewery with a capacity of less than 3000 barrels, but by the end of the 1980s this threshold increased to 15,000 barrels."

So, nano is the new micro.

Lots of microbrews remain great, but as we all know, some have changed recipes and made compromises or adaptations for larger scale brewing. We are in search of the sweet spot where dreams made of beer can come true - but the craft of brewing the finest beer remains unapologetic in its limitations of scale. Sort of like the Scoop ice cream shop in Fairfax, California - speaking of sweet spots- who unabashedly states that were they to take measures to eliminate the line of folks that often extends out the door onto the street - they would have to have a larger facility, hire more employees, make more ice cream than they can manage and feel crazy - in a sense go industrial and loose everything artisan about their craft. It's a philosophy based in a true love and respect for the craft. Not that big is not sometimes necessary and beautiful, we just believe that a human-scaled operation makes more sense for us. really shouldn't travel as much as we ask it to. Especially the English Ale Johnny is working on currently just doesn't do well traveling far distances. So we'll focus on the Bay Area, restaurants and bars and especially our members. More on this later.....

So, Hess Brewing down in San Diego, who I consider a sister brewery, though they don't know that yet, has compiled a great list of nanobreweries in the US. Hess Brewing has been a super helpful resource and inspiration.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there sister.

    Hope this venture goes well. If you have any questions feel free to give us a ring.