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Its easy for us homebrewers, but how difficult is it for a commercial brewer (whether it be small or large scale) to change a brewing recipe to affect the taste for small batches (10-100 bottles)?

I've had a pretty cool idea but am unsure if its possible...

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It very much depends upon how you want to affect the taste - in particular where in the brewing process that change has to happen. Changes in the grist, mash, boil affect the entire batch. Changes in fermentation depends upon how many fermentors the brewery has. Finally there is changes in packaging.

But even if your change could be delayed all the way until packaging time, it depends upon the brewer if they can and are willing to accommodate that.

I imagine you'd have more luck with smaller breweries. There is a 1200l microbrewery just down the road from me that uses disposable kegs - let's take them as an example. In principle they could add to their clearing tank some additional ingredients at the end of the kegging to add "something" to the beer for the last few kegs.

But even once you've got that far, you don't know how the mixture will turn out - balance is hard to achieve with just one shot.

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For adding things to finished beers it's not too hard. Our local micro does one keg every week of different things that they add to their normal brews. (coffee/vanilla porter, double dry hopped IPA, mango pale ale, tart cherry brown, etc).

Most breweries also have a pilot system that's one or two barrels (31 or 72 gallons) that they use for testing recipes or doing special small batches. That's big enough for them to scale it to their primary system, but also small enough that they aren't risking a huge amount of time or money if it doesn't turn out.

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  • What is the name of the micro that adds to their brews? Would love to get into contact with them and pick their brains I find it fascinating :) – user3190635 Jan 28 '14 at 1:16

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