The term 'gypsy' is often use to refer to nomadic societies, often in a derrogatory way, but when it comes to brewing beer the term has taken on a positive spin. Gypsy brewers create delicious beers without constantly worrying about their bottom line. They have the ability to make anything they want because they don’t have the high overhead of supporting a brewery. If you’re familiar with pop-up restaurants, gypsy breweries are somewhat similar-- a growing trend in the world of thoughtful microbrewing.
With so many people learning how to brew beer these days, it's no wonder that the food-truck style of commercialization has come to the brewing world. This new breed of brewers includes brands like Evil Twin, Pretty Things, Stillwater Artisanal Ales, and Mikkeller. These gypsy brewers rent the time, space, and manpower to brew great beers before moving on to new adventures. After learning how to brew beer, Mikeller's founder, Mikkel Borg, travelled the globe from 2006 to 2010, leaving more than 200 kinds of new beers in his wake.
"Everyone has different reasons for starting this way," Martha Paquette, part owner of Pretty Things told The Atlantic, "but for us it was partly financial. We brewed our first batch and we were broke."
Without as many financial obligations, gypsy brewers don’t have to make "popular beers" to support a big staff and pay the bills. They can take the creative chances that other brewers couldn’t, even pairing beers with certain foods and making super small batches.
"We're able to be crazy creative," Paquette says. "We brew for our own entertainment."
These brewers are usually super talented and traditional brew masters often welcome their input on new selections. because they know how to brew beer in just about any situation, gypsy brewers can collaborate with a number of breweries at one time. Each beer will be different because of the style of training each staff received and even the kind of water the brewery uses.
According to NPR, “Like an old-world itinerant preacher, [Brian] Strumke [of Stillwater Artisanal Ales] travels from brewery to brewery — from Belgium to Baltimore — spreading the craft beer gospel. He finds breweries that jibe with his thinking; rents out their excess capacity; and uses his own recipes to create limited edition batches and a brand.”
Not only do brewers get to brew fantastic beers, they're not tied to a place or a staff so they have the freedom to produce artistic tastes without fear. Cheers to learning how to brew beer in a brave new world!
Image: Bernt Rostad