Upslope Brown Ale: The Evolution of a Homebrew Recipe to Commercial Beer

It’s a dream of every homebrewer to see one of their homebrew recipes grow into a popular offering at taprooms and better beer stores across the country. We caught up with Upslope Brewing Co.’s Chad Pieper to follow the journey of his brown ale homebrew recipe which would become one of the brewery’s most popular canned offerings.

After brewing his first pale ale at home and picking up a copy of Charlie Papazian’s The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Chad Pieper, now the general manager of the Uplsope Brewing Co. taprooms, was hooked on all things beer.

“After that first batch I’ve never looked back and soaked up every bit of knowledge I could about all things beer,” shares Pieper. So it came as little surprise when Pieper tendered his resignation at his analyst gig in Washington D.C., packed up his homebrew equipment and drove out to Colorado in search of greener, beer-soaked pastures.

Chad Pieper

In a sheer instance of luck, or some may say fate, Pieper was enjoying a pint at a local brewpub and found himself in conversation with the late Danny Williams, a renowned member of the beer industry and longtime cellar master for the Great American Beer Festival. The next thing Pieper knew, Williams helped land him an internship at the Brewers Association, which began his journey into the professional world of beer.

Shortly after the internship, Pieper was hired on by Upslope to manage their taproom in North Boulder, Colo. At the time, Upslope was still in its freshman year and Pieper wanted to do his part to add some more options to their three beers on tap. After hauling his impressive brewing system (Pieper’s DIY riff on the Brutus Ten) into the Upslope tap room, Pieper began perfecting his “Bitter Brown” homebrew recipe, which would eventually become the award winning Uplsope Brown Ale.

“I really like English beer styles, and when I created the homebrew recipe, I wanted to take what I love of English beers and add a strong American punch to it,” explains Pieper.

The original renditions of the Bitter Brown recipe included a hefty dose of hops to accompany the coffee, roast and chocolate qualities of the malt. Upslope brewers chimed in as Pieper tweaked the recipe on his homebrew-turned-pilot system. The result was a slightly less involved malt bill and reduced bitterness, to offer a malt-forward beer to accompany their more hoppy beers of the time.

Chad Pieper GABF

When asked to share his secret on formulating the perfect recipe, Pieper always circles back to a similar theme: experimentation. “Once you learn the basics and have a consistent brewing process down, start to change one aspect of your brewing at a time,” says Pieper. The bitter brown recipe underwent ingredient changes, implemented different hopping techniques and was fermented with various yeast strains until the beer was too perfect to alter. As for the actual Upslope Brown Ale homebrew recipe, that’s a secret for now!

Today, Upslope Brown Ale is touted as one of Upslope’s tastiest canned beers. Over the past six years, as the brewery expanded to a new production location and established a second tap room, the brown ale has earned silver and bronze awards in the 2011 and 2014 Great American Beer Festival competition (respectively). It is also picking up national acclaim by popular periodicals such as Outdoor magazine.

Who would have thought a business analyst with a passion for homebrew would create the recipe for one of Colorado’s favorite beers!

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