There’s a certain romantic allure associated with plundering the depths of the millennia-old history of beer and wanting to precisely recreate a historical style that, for a moment, might whisk you to another time and place where life was simpler, mugs were clankier, and a person could belly up to a dimly lit wooden bar draped in handmade chainmail or fresh beaver pelts (or something all cool and historical like that.)
The downside to a strict stylistic approach to beer is that style guidelines might at best serve to define what one specific historical beer may have tasted like… And often only approximate the average of a variety of beers that were brewed guideline-free around roughly one time in roughly one place. My biggest gripe is that pure stylistic traditionalism inhibits the one driving force that has kept this industry relevant for quite literally thousands of years: evolution through innovation.
To us, that means recognizing and perfecting what has worked and what’s currently working while simultaneously doing our best to progress them. We do this by attempting to design and produce beers that tap into something deeper than just hitting a specific SRM or ABV target. Instead, we want to offer something that truly taps into the spirits and minds of our customers in new and interesting ways. To do this, we most often design beers with the “MAYA” concept in mind:
This concept recognizes that if progress is the goal, brewing strictly traditional styles does nothing to advance consumer preferences and challenges no norms; but also recognizes that pushing the boundaries too far threatens to lose sight of what makes beer (and beer culture) so appealing in the first place.
MAYA is about balancing these two forces to find that perfect tipping point where something familiar is tweaked just far enough to become interesting and exciting while still offering a foundation of familiarity and comfort. Finding this balance opens our minds up to exploration because we have that foundation of familiarity to ground us while our palate explores new and exciting territory.
This brings us to Fruit Crushers, our new Gushers-infused fruited kettle soured ale. It’s no secret at this point that fruited kettle sours are incredibly popular in Maryland. Our collective palates have advanced to the point where absolutely burying a kettle sour in fruit is no longer enough to stand out in a crowd. Letting MAYA be our guide, we aim to offer something that grounds us with familiarity yet pushes the boundaries just far enough to be exciting and new.
Enter Gushers. Gushers remind us of the care-free days of childhood. They remind us of weekends and freedom and Saturday morning cartoons. You yourself probably have specific memories of Gushers-laden lazy days, like Bailey remembers herself and her brother sprawled out in front of the TV surrounded by empty Gushers packages and without a single other care in the world.
The flavor profiles of Gushers and citrus fruited sour ales are a match made in heaven. Tart and tangy, they tease us with sweet, ripe fruit flavors but linger with a defined acidity. Combined, you have an incredibly delicious MAYA fruited kettle sour ready-made to provide a nostalgia bomb in a glass of something new yet familiar. It’s honestly a match made in heaven and you shouldn’t knock it until you try it.
Speaking of those who have knocked it, we can’t talk about our decision to brew with Gushers without addressing those who profess that brewing with Gushers is a sure sign that beer is dead. If you’ve been paying attention at all over the last few years, it’s crystal clear: Beer is anything but dead, despite Old Bay Summer Ales, Beaver anal gland juice (castoreum) raspberry vanilla chocolate stouts, and… yes… Gushers sours.
Small breweries are growing like crazy and continue to sprout up everywhere while cutting into the depleting market share of the macro brands that once dominated, even in the face of a shrinking beer market overall. Beer lovers are showing that they value the exciting new twists small locals can offer and that they crave the local connections small independent breweries make with our communities. So as long as small independents continue to innovate and connect with their neighbors, changing consumer preferences will continue to advance the industry to new and exciting heights.
Lastly, for those of you who are still not sold on the idea of your local brewery infusing a perfectly good Fruited American Sour with *shudder* more adjuncts, we can promise you this: You can count on True Respite to respectfully and lovingly continue to brew the traditional styles we’ve all come to love while also using the ample space in our fermentation cellar and on our taps to curate evolution and experimentation. We are fortunate to have up to 16 taps to fill with all kinds of different stuff, traditional and experimental included. And while the nature of experimentation means we won’t always enjoy the outcome, you can be assured that if we brew something that truly doesn’t work, we’re willing to dispose of it, learn from our mistakes, and move forward.