Bryant Goulding on Rhinegeist Truth
Bryant Goulding on Rhinegeist Truth IPA
Bryant Goulding, co-founder of Cincinnati, Ohio’s Rhinegeist Brewery answers our ten questions about their flagship beer, “Truth IPA.”
1. What is your flagship beer and when did you begin brewing it?
Truth IPA has become our flagship. We brewed many test batches, mostly examining different hop bills, and brewed the first batch just in time for our grand opening in 2013. We packaged Truth the morning we opened to the public and I’ll never forget the juicy, tropical aroma of gummy bears as people carried their pints away from the bar.
2. Who wrote the recipe and how did that come about? What was the inspiration for it?
Jim Matt, who is now our Chief Science Officer, was our first employee as head brewer and he wrote all of our recipes, many of which were scaled up from his homebrew recipes. When we met Jim, his proudest homebrews ran the gamut from a 3.8% alcohol British Mild o a double-digit strength Tripel to and we knew his creativity and versatility would pilot our brewery well.
Jim had a baseline IPA that he called “Inspiration Island” which used a lot of Amarillo, Simcoe and Citra, with the majority of the hops added late in dry hopping. The aroma was tropical, citrus with some dank bass notes that would transport you mentally to a faraway tropical island. Back before Ballast Point Sculpin was widely available, this was the beer that we discussed a lot as an inspiration — unique in that nothing like it was brewed in the Midwest at the time.
3. Did you go through several tests or were you happy with it right away?
We brewed close to a dozen test batches before opening. We knew it would be really challenging to brew a core IPA with Simcoe, Citra, and Amarillo hops because in 2013 these were some of the scarcest hops going. We brewed many different batches, but settled on the fact that this hop combo was the one we wanted and set out to try and secure enough of the varietals to buy us one year of production, when we then thought we could contract for more in the future. We got lucky when we called Jamie Floyd at Ninkasi Brewing, who at the time was the single largest customer of Amarillo hops, and he swapped us 800 lbs, which gave us the confidence to put Amarillo into Truth.
4. Has it changed at all over the years, or is it still the same as when you first brewed it?
Truth’s recipe is unchanged from when we first brewed it aside from the necessary minor tweaks in scaling up to new brewhouse sizes and/or adapting to processes as our brewing & cellaring has grown more sophisticated.
5. Did you think it was going to be your most popular beer or did that take you by surprise?
We knew an IPA would find an audience, but were happily surprised with the positive response. In the first few months of the brewery, we won some informal IPA competitions that put the beer on the map, and as word got out we had people visiting the brewery specifically looking for Truth.
6. When did you realize it was your flagship beer?
We knew very quickly as Truth sold out well before our other first batches, and quickly was measuredly outselling our other core brands. We committed to not running out of stock and committed to our licensee customers that if they put it on draft, we would keep them in stock, which wasn’t easy in the early days. It has always been the beer that’s most widely available on draft for us, and even before we got into canning our beer, we knew Truth was our flagship.
7. What do you like best about it and what is most unique about your flagship compared to other similar beers (assuming there are any similar ones).
Truth strikes us as the perfect balance of an IPA — the flavor of an elephant balancing on the head of a pin. The intense tropical aroma and balance was achieved with aggressive hopping embracing a somewhat complex malt bill, with a subdued but present malt character and the slightest of spice from rye in the malt bill.
8. How much of your early success do you attribute to your flagship beer?
We were inspired by the evolution of IPAs and certainly hopped wholeheartedly onto the wave of IPA expression. We brewed a number of Imperial IPAs, Pale Ales and other hoppy brews and a host of other styles, but left Truth as our singular IPA for quite some time. I think this focus on a brand gave it some runway for customers to build a relationship and look for it when they were out and about. Truth allowed the energy of our brand to travel in a way that was easily accessible, given its draft availability, and was a testement to our brewing philosophy — intense flavor and finesse.
9. What is your favorite story involving your flagship beer?
One of my best friends was getting married a few weeks after the brewery opened and I promised him I would bring some beer to his wedding. I checked a golf bag as luggage, and swaddled a keg of Truth inside cushioned in a bunch of towels. The moment I set eyes on the bag coming around the baggage conveyor in San Diego and realized it was dry with no leaks was a fantastic one.
Sharing Truth with friends was a really special moment in an incredible city where some truly great IPAs have been brewed. It felt like a baptism for the brand to be shared with close friends on their special day. That was Truth’s first wedding, and the keg was gone before anyone sat down for dinner.
10. What else would you want people to know about your flagship beer?
When we opened up, we said the world didn’t need another IPA unless it was a unique expression, and we feel like we achieved that with Truth. We would say that if you boiled the essence of Rhinegeist down in a cast iron skillet, Truth would be what’s left. It’s a special beer and one that never gets old as we work hard to make sure it’s always fresh.
Flagship beers were chosen by the individual writers with no input from the #FlagshipFebruary partners or sponsor breweries.