The Avant-Garde Techniques Of 4 Hands Brewing Company In St. Louis
Andy Burgio, lead brewer at 4 Hands Brewery in St. Louis, has long been fascinated with the exploratory process of craft brewing, as evidenced by three new, experimental beers the company is releasing this year–Loose Particles, Genevieve and Bone of Contention–each crafted using a slightly different method than the last, and displaying a diversity in flavor that enthusiasts of the 4 Hands brand have come to expect.
Burgio grew into the role on his own merit, experimenting with home brewing for years before joining the creative team at 4 Hands, who are recognized for wildly inventive flavors like their signature Chocolate Milk Stout and Passion Fruit Prussia. “We definitely try to push our boundaries,” Burgio says. With the release of these new small-batch brews, Burgio is pushing his brewing experiments to a whole new level.
The first in the series, Loose Particles, was made with a relatively new product on the brewing scene: Cryo Hops, a product that utilizes liquid nitrogen to separate essential oils and resin from the leaves and stem of the hop cone, resulting in a fine, green powder. The result increased the beer’s aroma and flavor and sold out fast. “We brewed 60 gallons, and it was gone in a few weeks,” Burgio laughs.
For their second undertaking, inspiration came from old gin barrels. “We use traditional bourbon barrels to make stouts, but this was more of an experiment to try and develop a style from a barrel that hasn’t really been used before.” The result was Genevieve, a Belgian Wit infused with botanical flavors typically found in gin. “The amount of complexity this beer had was amazing.”
The gin barrels will also be used to help brew their latest small batch this fall. Dubbed as Bone of Contention, it will be brewed as a saison farmhouse-style beer that originated in a French-speaking part of Belgium. Burgio’s ultimate goal was to create a beer that drinks like a gin cocktail. “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do a long time. I’m really excited about experimenting with combinations of sourness and the mixing of the different botanical elements,” he says.
While craft beer continues to dominate the landscape, Burgio takes a moment to discuss balancing the need to exercise creativity while maintaining a level of harmony for craft beer-lovers.
“I think craft beer is more of a culture than just a moment. People are excited about what’s next a lot of time,” he says. “There’s something to be said about consistency. If people have their favorites but they also want to see what’s next, it’s a balance of improvement and consistency. We try to make better-quality products and new seasonals for people to get rightfully excited about. We’re creative people, and we want to engage our community.”
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