Brewmaster Kevin Crompton tells us why Salt Lake City’s Epic embodies its lofty name, and walks us through five beers in his Exponential Series.
Everything seems unfathomably epic at Epic Brewing. In the two short years since owners David Cole and Peter Erickson opened the brewery doors, they’ve installed an onsite water treatment plant used to mimic water profiles around the world, created an inspired barrel program and built a lengthy catalogue of 28 beers. Here, things move at lightning pace.
The Epic culture is perhaps best represented by the brewery’s two specialty series, Exponential and Elevated, where no recipe is safe from tinkering. Take Hopulent IPA, part of the Elevated series: Since its first release, this beer’s undergone a series of tweaks, from swapping out Simcoe hops for Calypso, to altering the ABV; it’s already reached its 25th incarnation. Brainless Belgian (the base for its Brainless on Fruit beers) is also past its 20th manifestation; each version is engineered to showcase different elements of the beer, from Belgian sugar to spicy Saaz hops.
“A lot of brewers look at me, and what we’re doing, and squint,” says Crompton. “It’s not a normal thing for a craft brewery to produce 28 different kinds of beer.” And when each recipe is constantly changing, it’s—dare we say—epic. epicbrewing.com
“Our Belgian-style witbier uses a special strain of yeast—the same yeast they use to ferment Hoegaarden—and we spice it with sweet and bitter orange peel, grains of paradise and a bit of ginger.”
“I often refer to it as a junior barleywine. It has a lot of overripened fruit like figs, raisins and prunes that work well with the caramel malts. We use a kitchen sink of American hops, and it’s also dry-hopped with Centennial.”
Sour Apple Saison
“It’s a bastardized American version of a traditional saison blended with about 40 percent apple juice from a local orchard. We buy 1,200 gallons of apple juice per month, and this year, it will probably be 2,400. We spice it primarily with cardamom, but we also use coriander, grains of paradise, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.”
Rio’s Rompin’ Rye Ale
“Rio, one of our brewers, came up with the recipe. It’s an unfiltered, 20-percent rye beer. We use our hefeweizen yeast in the rye beer, since it’s hard to have one strain of yeast for one brand when you brew 28 different beers.”
Brainless on Peaches
“We put our Brainless Belgian tripel into French oak Chardonnay barrels, fill it halfway, then add 55 pounds of peach purée and Champagne yeast, and top off the barrel with more Brainless Belgian. We end up with this really nice, light-bodied beer, complex in aroma and flavor.”
NEW BREW: Keep an eye out for two new Epic beers this winter: An imperial pumpkin porter collaboration with D.C. Brau, and a gluten-free beer.