Keep­ers of the Craft

By pur­su­ing their am­bi­tion and fol­low­ing their heart, Colorado’s Pur­pose Brew­ing and Cel­lars and the thou­sands of small and in­de­pen­dent brew­eries like it play a much big­ger role in keep­ing the “craft” in beer than even the in­dus­try’s largest brew­ers.

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents -

“I’VE NEVER SEEN ART re­peated,” Peter Bouck­aert says in the course of de­scrib­ing the in­tent be­hind Pur­pose Brew­ing and Cel­lars. “When­ever you come in, we want you to be sur­prised by what’s on tap. Maybe you’re go­ing to love it, maybe you’re go­ing to hate it, but that’s okay be­cause art comes in many forms.”

Given Bouck­aert’s twenty-one-year ten­ure as brew­mas­ter at New Bel­gium Brew­ing Com­pany and his in­flu­ence as a van­guard brewer in the craft-beer move­ment, odds are that cus­tomers will find plenty to ap­pre­ci­ate among the beers cre­ated at Pur­pose Brew­ing, a newly opened nanobrew­ery in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Bouck­aert and his wife, Frezi, are part­ners with hus­band-and-wife Zach and Laura Wil­son in the ven­ture. As Bouck­aert tran­si­tions from his high-pro­file role at New Bel­gium, the coun­try’s fourth largest craft brewer, he is look­ing for­ward to rekin­dling a more di­rect con­nec­tion with the brew­ers’ art. Rather than striv­ing for scale, re­peata­bil­ity, con­tin­u­ous growth, and mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion, Pur­pose Brew­ing is wholly ded­i­cated to the cel­e­bra­tion of beauty—and fleet­ing beauty, at that.

Batch sizes are minis­cule—bouck­aert and Wil­son are brew­ing on a 4-hec­to­liter sys­tem—and dis­tri­bu­tion will largely be lim­ited to the beers that pass across the bar to cus­tomers in the small tast­ing room. When the lease is up on their cur­rent store­front lo­ca­tion, the part­ners plan to es­tab­lish more per­ma­nent roots for Pur­pose Brew­ing on a small farm on the out­skirts of town where they can grow more of their own in­gre­di­ents and pa­trons can en­joy a bu­colic at­mos­phere as they sip beers in­spired by the nat­u­ral set­ting.

“When you pick up a 6-pack of beer from a liquor store, you’re not nec­es­sar­ily think­ing or con­cerned about what in­gre­di­ents went into it and where the in­gre­di­ents came from,” Wil­son says. “And there’s noth­ing wrong with that, but we’re try­ing to do some­thing that’s maybe a lit­tle more sim­i­lar to a win­ery, in the sense that it brings the cus­tomer just a lit­tle bit closer to na­ture.

“We want to make beers that rep­re­sent the mo­ment,” he says. “We’re not so much fo­cused on style as on in­ter­pre­ta­tions of what we feel in our hearts. We re­ally hope that we can do jus­tice to the in­gre­di­ents that we use by turn­ing them into some­thing that’s purely and truly unique. It’s art; it’s not some­thing we can re-cre­ate, and we’re okay with that.”

Thanks to Big Beer

In many ways, small-scale res­o­lutely ar­ti­sanal brew­eries such as Pur­pose Brew­ing would not ex­ist with­out big beer. The craft-beer move­ment be­gan with a hand­ful of am­bi­tious home­brew­ers who built busi­nesses around of­fer­ing more fla­vor­ful and di­verse al­ter­na­tives to mass-pro­duced light lagers. As those brew­eries grew and helped change con­sumers’ per­cep­tions about what con­sti­tutes Amer­i­can beer, many of those early pi­o­neers grew into the cor­ner­stones of what would be­come the craft-beer in­dus­try. And as craft beer con­tin­ues to ma­ture and gain mar­ket share, much of the fo­cus has shifted to the grow­ing creep of big beer’s in­flu­ence and in­vest­ment in­ter­est in the in­dus­try and the in­creas­ingly blurred bound­ary that dis­tin­guishes “craft” from “beer.”

It’s an im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion to make clear and one that the Brew­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, the not-for-profit trade or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing and pro­tect­ing small and in­de­pen­dent Amer­i­can brew­ers, is wholly in­vested in de­fend­ing. And while the of­ten di­vi­sive moves hap­pen­ing at the pin­na­cles of craft gar­ner the lion’s

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