This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of brewer profiles from the Responsible Drunk. At Beer fest we were able to chat with Christian Ryan from River Horse Brewing Company in Lambertville, NJ about what they got brewing for this year, his thoughts on brewing philosophy and why some beers taste different out of the bottle and on draft...
RD: The Weizen Bock is brand new?
CR: Yes, just kegged that off yesterday
RD: What else do you have coming out new?
CR: At the beginning of our year we have the year roughly mapped out. We do try to do three reserves a year we try to do at least as many draft-only’s, because that is only like a half tank, get it out, blow it out and see what happens. The dunkel last year was one of those, and we’re bringing that back full time. Full time for Oktoberfest, and we’re going to do a fall run too… We’ve got Hopalatomus, last year we did a draft only, we’re bringing that back full time. We’re going to do a wheat-rye beer for our first reserve in a couple months. In the fall we’re going to do a farmhouse. We’re doing a pumpkin tripel…
RD: Gearing up for Oktoberfest?
CR: Yea, I think it will go very well. We got a Milk Stout coming back out… we’re probably going to do a barley wine for Christmas time. We’re going to do a Russian beer thing, a Russian style stout.
RD: Do you have a general philosophy…
CR: I do what I like, I don’t want to stick with style, I guess my philosophy is, I don’t like styles. If you stick to styles, then you are making beer that everybody else has. While it’s a good guideline I don’t want it in beer
RD: You don’t wan to peg yourself in extreme beer…
CR: I’m not a really big extreme beer fan, I like drinkable… For me if you dump 40 pounds of hops in a beer to the point where you can’t taste anything else, then what’s the point? Anybody can do that, look hey, I have the hoppiest beer! Alright, so what? I can’t taste anything else. Every person in this room could make that.
RD: And consistency is the other thing:
CR: That’s the hard part. Honestly, anybody can make good beer, the hard part is making good beer consistently.
RD: We recently reviewed Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron, and we review everything out of the bottle, and neither of us liked it out of the bottle, but we had it on draft list night, it was amazing. I feel like bottling technology has gotten to a point where it shouldn’t matter whether its on bottle or draft:
CR: Depending on which beer. So for us you have our Tripel, or Double or the Belgian Freeze, it's bottle-conditioned, so those are getting up to about 3.8%, 4.0% by volume CO2 but in the keggar, we only bring it up to about 2.8%... It can be a different experience, some guys don’t filter their draft, but filter their bottles… so there’s no real reason they should be different but in reality sometimes they are.
Beer Talk with the Responsible Drunk is edited for clarity and drunkenness.