Brewing, scienced up

There’s a fairly new brewery in Chicago that takes the art-meets-science approach that a lot of other brewers talk about in a new direction, really “sciencing up” the art of brewing. Fittingly, they’re called Empirical Brewery (this is an article about them on a new beer website called October, which I’ll have to write about soon), and their founder is a former Wall Street investment analyst. While they draw heavily on scientific terminology and imagery, especially from physics (interestingly enough!) and chemistry, their logo is an adaptation of the cuneiform symbol for “beer” (found on the tablet pictured, if you read cuneiform).

The brewery brews small experiments and then has customers conduct double-blind taste tests to evaluate the beers. This form of experimentation and assessment that they use to refine their beer recipes is evidently the “scientific” part of it, which raises some interesting questions: Don’t all brewers engage in some version of this type of experimental “science”? Is this just a formalized way of getting customer feedback without providing too much information that could interfere with taste? Is this more marketing ploy or faith in method? At the very least, this is interesting for the way it makes the connections between the appeal of beer as a “scientific” and a “craft” object immediately visible, and makes clear some of the ways new breweries try to find customer bases.


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