THE RORSCHACH BREWING PHILOSOPHY
The singular most important aspect of our brewing company is the philosophy that shapes the crafting of every one of our beers. We do not think of ourselves as brewmasters, we have not toiled away in the industry, working our way up from keg washer to head brewer at a regional brewery, finally deciding to go off on our own. Our philosophy is the culmination of our experiences; experiences brewing many different styles of beer, whatever our imagination could envision; experiences travelling across Canada, the United States, and Europe, visiting countless breweries, sampling their beers and learning from the brewers about how these beers were crafted; experiences visiting hop farms and barley fields, collecting wild yeast and bacteria from our surrounding environment and trying to craft beers that complement their flavor profiles. The greater point is that all of our experiences with beer have shaped the way we brew, and all of our experiences brewing have shaped the way we view beer; and all of those experiences live within the framework of every Rorschach beer.
We brew beers that we like to drink. This is our main consideration. We believe these beers to be not only intriguing and complex, but also pleasant to the palate and drinkable in a social setting. These two overarching design elements, we hope are visible throughout all of the beers we create. The word ‘balance’ gets thrown around a lot in describing beers, and while we agree with the premise, we don’t necessarily always agree on the execution. A lot of people view the main point of balance in a beer to be the balance between hoppy bitterness and sweet maltiness, and while the sweet-bitter balance is always present in every beer, we don’t feel that the counterpoint to hoppy bitterness always has to be derived through malt. We believe that the balance of a singular dominant element in a beer, such as bitterness in an IPA for example, can be balanced with several different counterpoint elements, not only sweetness, but also malt choice, mouthfeel, timing of hop additions etc. Showcasing a specific element in a beer does not mean that the beer is not balanced, unless that component dominates every other aspect in the beer.
With respect to our hop-forward beers, we value hop character over hop bitterness. We love hops, but we don’t necessarily love an overpowering hop bitterness in our beers. When designing our IPAs, we are continually trying to pack as much hop character into the beer as possible, while at the same time minimizing the effect of the hop bittering compounds on the overall character of the beer. This means a large amount of hop additions late in the boil, as well as in the dry-hop. The IBUs in our a beer are not a great consideration for us; we judge a beer mostly on the overall hop character, flavor and aroma, and we feel that this results in an IPA that doesn’t create palate fatigue after a single glass. There are many very unique and interesting hop varieties available to brew with, and we strive to transfer as much of that character from these hops into the finished beer as possible, without masking their character with overwhelming bitterness or maltiness. Ultimately, this allows us to create a well rounded IPA with powerful citrus, tropical fruit, pine notes that jump out of the glass, waiting to be enjoyed.
In a similar vein as our IPAs, we value intriguing and complex yeast driven aromatics (esters, phenols, organic acids, etc.) in our Parkhouse ales, over pure sourness. Our house yeast culture has several very active and hop-resistant strains of Lactic acid producing bacteria (Lactobacillus, Pediococcus), which means we are continually balancing the bitterness of the wort with the activity of these bacteria in order to get a pleasantly acidic beer, a pronounced but not overwhelmingly acidity. We strive for these beers to have a balance between the bitter and sour elements, and have a rounded flavor profile that intrigues but doesn’t overwhelm the palate.