While summer weather is still here and there, PBC’s summer tradition of the small batch pilot releases is going strong. This year, we’ve already released 10 new beers up at the Springs via the pilot system, which produces a modest one barrel of beer compared to the 50 barrels of the standard Springs brew.
The pilot system allows the brewer to stretch with different ingredients and styles and
experiment more, head brewer Mike Elliot explained. They can play with stuff they usually don’t have time or room for in other systems.
The pilot system brings more visitors up to the Springs, especially on Friday new release days. Some brews don’t last as long as others, so there is an incentive to get up and try the new brew before it’s gone. They make quite a large variety of beers up there, “and people seem to enjoy it all,” Elliot remarked.
The flavors or ideas usually come to the brewers in dreams, he joked, and while there are some hits- like the Juniper Saison that was very intense when first brewed, but has mellowed considerably to a nice balanced brew, there are sometimes misses too. Dark beers, Elliot uses as an example, seem to be cursed. We’ve dumped out five different Porters on the pilot system. But overall the lighter beers tend to go faster.
If they’re not too late this year, they’ll likely try to brew the Spruce Tip Ale from last year and there was a blackberry beer people really enjoyed last year too. Love Tractor and Stewart Loch, which have both made it down to the vault, were both pilot system launches. They were enjoyed well enough that they warranted a larger brewing. Last year, company-wide, 110 unique beers were released.
This year’s latest releases include a Tangerine Pale Ale, Earth Rocker and an Oatmeal Stout. Lots of breweries have a smaller research and development arm where brewers can get together and develop new recipes. PBC’s pilot system allows for just that, with room for modifications and changes if needed.