Episode 168: Andrew Bell of Radiant Beer Co. Opens Up on Ingredient Successes and Failures

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If you’ve had a beer from Placentia, California’s The Bruery at a festival or in their taproom over the past half-decade, there’s a good chance that Andrew Bell designed it or brewed it. The longtime innovation brewer has developed a reputation amongst industry peers as one who has tried just about anything that can be legally added to beer—from powdered cream cheese to obscure spices and fruit in every form imaginable.

In mid-2020, he joined former Bruery colleagues Jonas Nemura and Cambria Griffith to launch Radiant Beer Co. in Orange County, and now he’s tackling a new type of innovation problem—designing a brewing program and identity from scratch.

In this episode, Bell discusses lessons learned from brewing more than 300 new beers per year, including:

  • setting and adhering to stylistic guard rails
  • breaking down familiar flavors like oatmeal raisin cookie, and rebuilding them in beer
  • using sub-threshold spicing to build flavor that evokes an emotional connection
  • the challenge of scaling ingredients up from the pilot batches to production batches
  • processing nuts and improving their extract efficiency
  • pasteurizing for safety and to improve flavors
  • the ways that different fruit-processing methods (purée, juice, dehydrated, fresh) affect flavor expression
  • brewing “clean” beer with wine grapes
  • managing ultra-high-gravity fermentations with unusual yeast
  • brewing low-bitterness West Coast-style IPAs with high aromatic and tropical elements
  • subtle spicing in traditional styles like witbier

And much more.

If you’ve ever brewed with a new ingredient and suffered spectacular failure, welcome to Bell’s world. Through a long process of research, ingredient sourcing, and brewhouse testing, he’s figured out ways to make difficult ingredients work—and also found ingredients that he’ll never use again.

In this episode, he delves into both the success and the failures, with tips that anyone can use to achieve better outcomes with difficult ingredients.

*This episode is brought to you by: *

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