Everyone wants to talk about innovation in beer these days, which could mean anything from playing with a new ingredient, or piece of equipment, or working to create a whole new style of beer. With a new record number for breweries in the U.S. being achieved daily, there are conscious and constant decisions breweries make as a way to differentiate themselves. And while all brewers certainly have a hand in innovating for their respective companies, there aren’t a ton who have a job to specifically do just that.
Nick Crandall is the head brewer and innovation brewer at Redhook Brewery’s Brewlab, a brewpub located in downtown Seattle where the once-national company has wildly condensed its focus with Nick amongst its epicenter. From a small brewhouse in the brewpub, he’s working to consider and concoct new recipes that are tested feet from where it’s made, providing instant feedback and hopeful gratification for a Redhook team tasked with arguably the best part of the brewing process: playing.
Through trial and error, Crandall is working to see what might just come next. When I sat down with him in September, he had recently tapped a Brut IPA and the business had also been working through trials with New England IPAs. Through altering batches and finding new ways to use and approach ingredients, Crandall is hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he’ll find a hit that can go from his bar to a production brewery and into the hands of many. For a brewery like Redhook that has had a storied history in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a repurposing of talent and resources that offers a new kind of excitement for what might happen next.