Labatt USA leaders believe a new innovation brewery the company opened in the Cobblestone District can help upstate New York become an international beer tourism destination. They also have bigger things in mind.
The hope: Labatt Brew House Brewmaster Ryan Brady will concoct the next big beer for the Labatt brand.
His test lab: a 3,000-square-foot brew house and 400-square-foot tasting room at 79 Perry St.
"The idea is that we're going to get consumer feedback by word of mouth, online ratings and sales numbers for our customers in the tasting room and through the Draft Room, beer bar and eatery in the same building," Brady said.
Brady made two batches of the first eight test beers, with hopes all will be available for a week or two. After that, he said, “every batch will be a new beer, essentially," unless customer demand suggests that something can become a flagship beer in the taproom – and maybe, just maybe, far beyond.
Here’s a look at the first eight innovation beers on tap in the tasting room and Draft House, as well as a leading international brand contender Brady and Labatt USA had in their pipeline as they prepared to open the Brew House.
Labatt Blue Citra
The tasting room set aside two taps to start for this hoppy session lager, made with Citra and Mosaic hops, and pale malt. Some in the craft beer trade consider this approachable style a bridge beer for those who enjoy traditional lagers like Labatt and Budweiser, but will try craft beer with a little encouragement. It’s 4.7 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), the same as Labatt Blue. Labatt launched Blue Citra in its Buffalo Brew House and it will soon be available in restaurants and taprooms across the region.
This unfiltered traditional German pilsner, with a hazy yellow hue, is powered by Hallertau and Herksbruker hops. Czech Kazbek hops added during the boil give this beer add an untraditional lemony edge. This beer has the lowest ABV of the lot, at 4.2 percent.
New England India Pale Ale (IPA)
Oats, wheat and a heavy dry hopped process combine to make this India Pale Ale, which casts a hazy off-yellow hue because it's unfiltered. This type of brewing process tends to give beer more body and, often, smoothness.
India Pale Ale (IPA)
This copper-hued, East Coast-style ale is brewed with Centennial hops that lend it a grapefruit and citrus flavor, along with pine notes that balance a malty sweetness with its hoppiness. This is the most bitter of the first innovation batches, followed by the New England IPA. This beer is worth a taste even for those averse to really hoppy beers when you consider that it has 42 International Bittering Units (IBU), compared to 80 IBU for Hayburner, the popular Big Ditch Brewery flagship IPA.
A hop-malt recipe leans just a bit toward the bitter side but its roasty taste profile, with hints of chocolate, is built for a dark beer balance. This has the highest in alcohol content, 6.1 percent, of the first beers because of its brewing and fermentation process.
This full-bodied pale ale is bolstered by wheat. The hops, with peach tones, is added to the end of the boil to boost the flavor and aroma. Brady said he expects the Blue Citra, New England IPA and this beer to be the top sellers in coming days.
Gose (strawberry sour beer)
Wheat, lactose and strawberry puree give this beer its flavor profile; lactobacillus gives it its sour edge, which Brady slightly beat back by adding a touch of salt while boiling the brew.
German Hefe lovers are in for a treat with this Bavarian-style beer, which offers hits the palate with clove and banana notes. Brady added more smoothness and body by making the batch unfiltered.
A subtle mix of Cascade and Mittlefruesh hops provide a floral aroma for this light, easy drinking beer.