Benjamin Berry from Minnesota has worked closely with the central management teams of a number of organizations to effect organizational change for better efficiency and profitability. He is a successful entrepreneur with numerous business entities to his credit, and he has long and fruitful experience in the food and hospitality industry. As a Certified Cicerone and Sommelier, Benjamin Berry has developed some unique insights on top-quality beer and wine.
Benjamin Berry from Minnesota: Certified Cicerone and Sommelier Offers Insights on Wine & Beer
Benjamin Berry explains that the best brewing and wine-making techniques are either traditional (where ingredients are selected, processed and bottled by individuals, rather than by machines or mass production-based means) or based on traditional methods (including by machines that approximate personal, hands-on techniques, small-scale production, etc).
The reasons for this are not difficult to understand. But when brewers and winemakers become overly obsessed with innovation, technology, and fall in love with the idea of having the cleanest, shiniest, most “advanced” facility – they lose sight of the real goal, which is making a quality product.
Benjamin Berry of Minnesota tells us that the things that make great beer and wine are the same as they have always been for as long as people have been drinking alcohol. What makes these drinks great is the quality of the grapes (condition, ripeness, plumpness, flavor, etc.) and the grains (structure, character, flavor) they are made from .
These base plant materials must be of the right, not necessarily the “best,” but the right quality. In this context, the “right quality” refers to the ripeness, flavor, condition and character most appropriate to the desired taste and outcome the beer or winemaker is working to achieve.
The other half of the equation is the human palate and digestive physiology.
Breaking Down the Wine-Making/Brewing Process
There are four steps, Benjamin Berry says, that go into making great wine or beer. They are 1. Great grapes or grains. 2. Great winemaking or brewing. 3. A long-term vision. 4. An artist’s touch.
Benjamin Berry of Minnesota explains that many young brewing startups get an idea for crafting beer on a small scale. They become obsessed with building an innovative business model, doing it with the shiniest possible containers, monitoring it with flashy computers, and becoming a financial success overnight. With this type of approach, great grapes or grains are often sought after and sometimes obtained. But the process breaks down from there. Their only long-term vision is to have a cartoon version of their faces printed on bottles that are sold in bars all over the world.
But the greatest brewers and winemakers work from a vision of producing a great product that is appreciated by people with refined palates. Naturally, this is not a recipe for international corporate success- and anyone so inclined will inevitably be overtaken by mass producers of products aimed at the widest possible demographic – those who want cheap alcohol.
Finally, Benjamin Berry explains, there must be an artistic element to the process. There must be something indefinable, an “X-factor.” This can only come from either tremendous dumb luck, which is not worth banking on – or it must come from the insights of a brewer or winemaker who loves the drink he is creating, knows it intimately, and who possesses a critical grain of wisdom that few have managed to leverage successfully.