WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Beer lovers in northern Arizona have probably taken notice of the three new brews released this past December by Grand Canyon Brewery. But if not, it might behoove them to do just that.
It's not just the fact that Grand Canyon Brewery has three new choices to choose from, but it's also about what's inside these new selections that will likely draw beer lovers in.
Inside each bottle is a Grand Canyon Brewery patented design called the "Flavor Bomb." The Flavor Bomb is a revolutionary product that changes a great deal about what we all thought we knew about beer.
The three new beers that have the Flavor Bomb inside the bottles are the Shaggy Bock, the Hop Bomber, and the Coffee Stout.
John Peasley, Grand Canyon Brewery president and CEO, invented and designed the Flavor Bomb capsules.
The Flavor Bomb is a long, vertical, rounded capsule that is placed inside the beer bottle and expands when the liquid fills the bottle. It has a "Y-shaped hook" that opens at the top of the capsule to ensure that it never comes out of the bottle. Holes in the capsule allow the beer to constantly filter through the Flavor Bomb engulfing the cold beverage in new and more enriched flavors.
"Inside the Hop Bomber we put three whole hop cones, so it's got fresh hops and the longer it sits in there the more it drafts and ages, and the more fragrance you'll then get as far as smell and even better hop taste," said Peasley.
Inside the Shaggy Bock Peasley said they put a two-inch piece of dark toast French oak. The longer the oak stick ages the more flavor that is pulled from it, including a caramel and roast taste. Perhaps even "mellowing it out a little bit," as Peasley would say.
Taking the brewery's stout beer and inserting the same dark toasted French oak stick, and then adding two coffee beans, makes the unique Coffee Stout. Café 326 in Williams supplies the coffee beans for Grand Canyon Brewery's Coffee Stout beer.
"It tastes like a morning espresso, it's almost like an iced coffee in the morning. It's kind of scary it tastes so good you'll want to drink it in the morning," Peasley joked. "What really makes it unique now is the fact that it could sit on the shelf and you could drink it the first week it's out, and then drink it in two weeks and you'll get different flavor profiles. Or wait four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, or six months. Every time you drink it you're going to get more flavors from whatever's in that capsule."
A winter ale the brewery plans to release next year will include a vanilla bean and medium toast oak stick as its Flavor Bomb. It will have a bourbon flavor to mix with the vanilla bean taste.
Peasley said he loves beer so much it's hard to pick his favorite of the three new flavors recently released, but when pressed he leaned towards the Shaggy Bock. The Shaggy Bock is a seasonal brew though and it will only be offered until April.
Peasley added the Grand Canyon Brewery currently has plans for a summer wheat ale with an orange peel inside the Flavor Bomb capsule.
The Flavor Bomb innovation also completely changes home brewing, according to Peasley. He said home brewers no longer have to make an entirely new batch to change flavors, but can try different hops in the capsules, different styles of oak sticks, or a wine or whiskey barrel Flavor Bomb inside the bottle.
Peasley's original idea started with an oak stick that was cut down to fit inside the bottle. He tried to get the stick to swell inside but it didn't always work properly. Next, he and his brewery associates tried tea bags, but that proved too expensive and there was no good way to keep the bags inside the bottles.
"Turns out the best design is long and round to get the maximum area to put stuff in, it expands inside, and it has holes so it filters the beer through it," said Peasley. "Plus the Y hook keeps it inside the bottle. Nothing's getting lodged in your throat, nobody's going to choke on it or die from it."
Peasley came up with the idea for the Flavor Bomb while on vacation over two years ago. He hired an engineering company to finalize a design and get it to work. After much trial and error they found the perfect design. It's also long enough to not flip inside the bottle.
"Now is the real hard part, but also the fun part, finding out what we can put in there and what flavor profiles we're going to get," Peasley said. "That's what makes it so unique."
The Grand Canyon Brewery opened in August of 2007. It brews, bottles and cans its beers all in Williams. The brewery distributes its local-made beer in Williams, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Prescott, and several other venues across the state.
The brewery has over 600 points of distribution, including the Grand Canyon Railway. The Grand Canyon Brewery's new bottler can bottle 60 bottles a minute.
The brewery can be found online at www.grandcanyonbrewery.com.