Craft beer and online sample seem like two completely different worlds. People taking surveys at first glance have nothing in common with people drinking beer. And that’s how I felt walking into Urban Artifact, a Cincinnati-based craft brewery; however, I left with a completely different opinion.
I spoke to Bret Kollmann Baker, Chief of Brewing Operations and Nic Pater, a brewer. I expected a bunch of hipsters and my expectations were initially met as they offered me a kombucha as I entered the door. If you listen to our Intellicast podcast, I have (somewhat jokingly) ranted about craft beer and how it’s a bunch of hipsters brewing beer and is one step above making it in their basement, likely brainstorming cool names that other hipsters and millennials will flock to.
However, I was quickly blown away by the science behind making beer, particularly the type of beers that they create. They make real fruit beer. I must distinguish between real fruit beer and most of their competitors, which are likely fruit flavored beers, a vital distinction. The way they brew their beers starts with both art and science, but ends up having a lot of science before it’s ready to be tapped. They are very particular with the flavors and ingredients they use to complement each other. They monitor a lot of profiles that seemed very foreign to me – things like surface area to volume levels, which vary by barrel size, format, period of infusion, among many other things that the average beer drinker would never be interested in knowing anything about. Most beer drinkers just want to buy a beer and enjoy it.
They are adamant about ensuring the highest quality ingredients, and it goes without saying that when working with fresh fruit, there are a lot of complexities to manage, like who has the best crop, seasonal differences, climate changes, droughts, delivery time, ripeness, etc.
While they may not have a Master’s in Zymology (look it up), brew masters are every bit the statisticians and methodologists we see in the sample industry and I learned quite a bit from them. I love that they are proud of the beer they make and only choose exclusive ingredients that meet their standards. Similar to how there are varying levels of quality of beers, it’s certainly the same with panels, and even respondents. Determining the highest quality of panels and panelists has taken us many years to learn, and we certainly aren’t perfect as increases in technology and growth of fraud persists. It takes a lot of effort behind the scenes to keep up with these changes. Similar to Urban Artifact, we pick and cultivate our sample partners (ingredients) with a lot of care. We pick the best fruits for our clients and their unique needs to ensure all of our clients have a solution that fits their taste.
Likewise, as they’re determining their ingredients, they’re customizing each different blend for a unique solution that caters to a certain type of beer drinker. Similarly, we cater to our clients by putting together a unique blend of “ingredients”, each complementing each other and serving a role. We add science behind the quotas and monitor and adjust as needed. I’m sure brewing beer has a myriad of challenges I’m unaware of, and we have our own sampling challenges that most are aware of, and first and foremost, is that we’re depending on human beings actually taking a survey – often for very little incentive. Our partners and our own project management team use a lot of science to ensure the final ingredient is exactly what you order. And hopefully you have a good time and come back for more.
I really like their Operation Plowshare, a beer that tastes like a jelly doughnut. My wife prefers Landline, a fruit tart ale. Urban Artifact uses a lot of science to customize the perfect blend for
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