As we have been introducing our varietal beers (each one features a single variety of grain) to the broader world, we’ve noticed a curious dichotomy. Beer is made from the most ancient agricultural crop of them all: cereal grains, yet it is seldom perceived as a natural creation quite like wine is. Through Hanabi, we are working to change that, by focusing attention on this ancient and central ingredient.

Beer is ancient. But, the concept of grain-forward beer is new.

We believe that the time has come to introduce the new term of grain-forward beer into craft brewing lexicon. What does this mean? Grain-forward beers are crafted to highlight and respect the innate flavors of the soul and main ingredient of beer, the grains! While beers that showcase the wide ranging flavors of hop flowers are already well developed (hop-forward beers), and those that expound on the flavors coming from the processing of grains (toasting, roasting) are also widely available (malt-forward beers), there is no coherent effort in beer yet to express the flavors that grain variety and growing conditions (terroir) can bring to this ancient and noble beverage. We feel as though a new focus on the main ingredient (grains!) is warranted and offers new possibility for flavors and style in craft brewing.

We feel that stylistically, this is best achieved in beers that are classic in nature, moderate, and balanced— those that avoid the competing strong flavors of big hops, heavy toasting of the grains, or use of barrels or other ingredients or processes that obscure the comforting and widely ranging flavors of the main ingredient. In grain-forward beer, we think all those other aspects of brewing should be there to support, not overwhelm, the spirit of the grains themselves.

This concept is particularly timely because for the last 100+ years there has been a diminishing choice in grain varieties that were available to brew beer, as a drive towards efficiency and productivity ruled the selection process. With a recent resurgence of interest in heirloom varieties of many fruits and vegetables, driven by a desire for their better flavors and nutrition that they can offer, the availability of special grains for brewing is opening new doors of possibility in beer.

We at Hanabi are scouring the world for the most aromatic, tasty cereal grains that we can find, and we will be presenting them through the purest, cleanest, cold-fermented lens of lager. The result of this approach is what we are calling grain-forward lagers.

We believe that a renaissance in beer is coming, driven by a reconnection to the most essential ingredient, grains, of this ancient beverage. We believe that there will be a return to beer that tastes like beer, made very well but simply, with an emphasis on using high quality agricultural ingredients. At least for Hanabi, we are on the course of taking beer right back to its roots, in an effort to move it forward. We hope to elevate the notion of what can be achieved with these four simple agricultural ingredients: grain, hops, yeast, and water.