You changed the recipe!!!!!!

by: Dean Mcleod

Did we? You’ll need to read on, but firstly let me welcome you to the Lighthouse Blog. I’m Dean the Brewmaster, and myself and the other brewers will be putting fingers to the key board now and then to share with you some of our ideas and observations about beer and the craft beer business. Topics that we like to bat around over a beer at the end of the day. Things of interest to us, and hopefully to you as well.

Lighthouse drinkers will have noticed our recent branding change. We’re really happy with our new logo, labels and web page, and we have received an overwhelming ‘thumbs up’ from the beer-drinking community. We did however anticipate, and indeed receive, a number of comments along the lines of “Love the new branding, but, why did you change the recipe?” Have the recipes been changed? It’s a bit of a yes and no answer, and there are good arguments both for and against doing so. Here are a couple of the reasons that brewers change recipes.

Consistency. For some brewers, especially those producing the biggest selling brands, meeting the flavour expectations of their drinkers each and every time is paramount. This is tough to do. Although we are able to brew year-round, malt and hops remains a seasonal crop and there can be dramatic differences from year to year. Even within a season, hops in particular will deteriorate, and brewers must constantly tweak their brews to if they wish to keep their beers within a narrow flavour target. Personally, I like seasonality in beer flavour, as it serves to remind us that beer is made with natural, agricultural products. Ours are at least. The Race Rocks recipe has never changed, and therefore its flavour will.

Repositioning. I love IPA. I have watched with great interest how IPA has changed in BC over the years as consumer preferences have changed. From the outset, we deliberately brewed Shipwreck (formerly Switchback) differently from other BC IPAs, and we will continue to refine and steer this beer in a specific direction to further differentiate it. Hops varieties that were not available to us before, for example, are in this year’s contract, and subtle changes to the malt bill, brewing techniques and quality aspects continue to shape this beer.

We’re excited about the development journey that we’re on and we hope that you also enjoy the ride! Oh, and the name change? Another business in BC had previously registered ‘Switchback’ and we had no choice but to change. Oh well, shit happens, eh?

Other issues such as hop shortages can force our hand too, but usually recipe changes are made with specific goals in mind. Remember if beer tastes identical every time, then you know the recipe must have changed. Conversely, If the flavour varies, it may result from a recipe written in stone. What never will change at Lighthouse is our commitment to making the best beer we know how.