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Saturday, May 26, 2018
Interview with National Brewing Expert Dick Cantwell on His New Book
Dick Cantwell, a
three-time winner of Brewpub of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival®
and a renowned brewer, shares his insights on the surging popularity of craft
beers in a new book, BrewingEclectic IPA: Pushing The Boundaries of India Pale Ale (Brewers
Publications; June 4, 2018; Hardcover $19.95;176 pages; ISBN:
978-1-938469-46-6). Media Connect is proudly promoting this book to the news
Among the most well-respected
and experienced craft brewers in the world, Cantwell explores the history,
trends, and recipes behind the most popular style of craft beer. He provides
scores of tips and methods for the beer-curious to concoct a delectable brew
and shares the story of how and why the proliferation of American IPA came to
“There’s no mistaking
that we are living in the heyday of IPA,” declares Cantwell. “Brewers are using
a wide range of ingredients, from cocoa nibs, coffee, fruits, and vegetables, to
spices, herbs, and even wood, to push the boundaries of the style.”
Dozens of recipes are
contained in Brewing Eclectic IPA, including recipes for IPA with fruits,
herbs, spices, coffees, chocolates and other flavorful sources.
continue pushing the envelope of flavors, adopting new and unusual ingredients
that expand the boundaries of classic beer styles while at the same time
demonstrating reverence for the beers that have come before them,” writes
Cantwell. “This willingness to take risks has driven the growth of craft beer,
as people have gradually rediscovered flavor and rejected blandness in their
food and drink choices over the past few decades.”
Brewers Association reports that IPA, the leading craft style, is now the third
most popular style of all beers. Brewing Eclectic IPA resourcefully
provides a chart that shows how dozens of fruits can be utilized to craft a
delicious IPA. It describes how the fruit should be used (i.e. pureed, juiced,
and chopped), and shares each fruit’s attributes, and recommends what it can be
combined with. Similar charts show a list of vegetables, herbs, botanicals,
spices, and a list of chocolate, coffee and tea forms that can be utilized in
brewing the perfect IPA.
The Brewers Association (BA)
is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and
brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.
Here’s an interview with Dick
1.What inspired you to write Brewing
(BP) contacted me a while back with the idea that BP would publish a series of
books on IPA, each devoted to a different style-type. Of all the types available—English,
American, Double/Imperial, Session, Black, White and Belgian, I chose Eclectic
since it sounded like the most fun, as well as the one best suited to me. I’ve
always tried to be an innovative brewer, exploring new ingredients and techniques
to make delicious beers, and IPA is most often what I drink. It gave me a
chance to do some research on what’s been going on out there, and to develop
some new ideas of my own.
2.What’s the biggest takeaway from the book?
As popular as IPA is,
and as much interest as there is in innovation and the kinds of flavor
combinations one finds, not just in beer but in cooking and other food
products, the opportunity to conceive flavors that go together for both
subjective and scientifically quantifiable reasons, this is a book that should
appeal not just to brewers but to more general readers as well.
3.Why do you believe India Pale Ale (IPA) has
become the most popular style of craft beer? How is it experiencing a
revolution of flavor?
On an awful lot of
beer menus, IPAs are the best beer on offer. They provide brewers the
opportunity to show their chops—to show that they know what they’re doing in
the brewhouse, and that they’re tapped into the latest and most interesting hop
varieties available. With all the fruity new hop varieties being grown around
the world, whole new styles and sub-styles have emerged, showing off juiciness
and interesting combinations with fruit, herbs, wood, and sour aging.
4.Where do you see additional growth for the
It’s really all
across the board, from attracting people who haven’t been craft beer drinkers
with entry level ales and lagers that offer more flavor and enjoyment than the
industrial beers they’re accustomed to, onward to aficionados perennially interested
in whatever’s new. That puts pressure on brewers both to remember they’ve got a
varied audience for their beers and to keep putting out new beers with new
5.In order to differentiate themselves,
brewers are introducing and experimenting with additional ingredients and
brewing techniques. How do they go about doing that?
A lot of the time it
just occurs to them that a particular specialty ingredient lends itself to a
certain style: it plays off malt and hops in a way that either harmonizes with
the base beer, or surprises the drinker with interpretive contrast. Sometimes a
particular hop variety is so reminiscent of a particular fruit or herb that it
just cries out to be combined with. Some combinations are just a natural, and
others are unnatural—yet delicious.
6.Could IPA, as the leading craft style,
eventually become bigger than American lagers and light lagers?
I’d love to say yes,
but I don’t think IPAs are for absolutely everyone. If they were, in fact, I’m
not sure there would be enough interesting hops to go around. There’s no
question that they’re continuing to grow in popularity, and that the brewers
who make those light lagers are getting in on the action with the formerly
craft brands they’ve acquired.
7.Your book shares dozens of recipes from some
of the nation’s top brewers. Which are some of your favorites?
At Magnolia we’re
gradually brewing some of the recipes to try out on our customers. Hot Guava
Monster (a guava habañero double IPA) was very popular recently. I love both
rosemary and juniper in IPA. The jasmine IPA I brewed at Elysian has always
been a favorite of mine, and while as a federal licensee we’re not allowed to
make beer with any THC in it from cannabis, we did recently did do an IPA using
non-psychoactive cannabis terpenes.
In 2004, you received the Brewers Association’s Russell Schehrer Award for
Innovation in Brewing. Tell us a little about that and what you and your fellow
winning brewers have accomplished in achieving that honor – and how you rose up
to be among the most well-respected and experienced craft brewers of today?
It was a great and unexpected honor to
receive Russell’s award in San Diego that year. Looking back on it I feel it’s
been something that’s kept me going, innovating and putting it all on the line
as my career has developed. And it’s a pretty prestigious group, recognizing
the lifetimes of achievement of many of craft brewing’s pioneers and chief
inventors. Those who have been given the award are also well-known for sharing
everything they know with pretty much anyone who asks for help. It’s how we all
got where we are, and it’s one of the open secrets of our industry.
Your book is the first one dedicated to India Pale Ales that are brewed and
fermented using flavorful ingredients that don’t adhere to the German Reinheitsgebot. Why is that significant?
We are fortunate in
the world outside of Germany not to have to worry about the constraints of the Reinheitsegebot. The hoops German
brewers have to jump through in order to call what they produce “bier” are
incredible, and incredibly arcane. These days, of course, German craft brewers
are brewing IPAs and other adventurous styles and risking the opprobrium of
having what they make called something else. I think they’ll get over it.