I know. You are asking, where's the brewing stuff? Well, I haven't brewed a batch since January 1st. My next batch is going to be a ESB. Something close to Red Hook. I love microbreweries that list details about the beers they brew. Obviously, they don't give away all of the secrets to making their beer, but it is interesting and useful if you brew your own beer.
For example: Red Hook ESB is made from 2-row Klages barley and Caramel 60. The hops used are Willamette and Tettnang. The bitterness is 28 IBU and the original gravity is 1.05454. My hydrometer doesn't measure to 6 significant digits, so I'll just get it close to 1.05. The alcohol by volume is 5.77%
What the specific gravity indirectly tells me is the amount of malt in the brew. The % ethanol by volume can be used to calculate the final gravity. An OG of 1.055 and a ABV of 5.77% translates to a FG of about 1.015 The bitterness tells me the amount of hops (soon, I'll write a post on the chemistry of hops). With this data and an authentic sample (i.e. samples) of Red Hook ESB, I should be able to get a pretty good clone.
The major and most critical component is the yeast. The yeast make the beer what the beer is. Everything depends on the yeast. There are a lot of yeasts available and they all make beer a bit differently. Yeast do not just make ethanol. They make a whole lot more chemicals (someday, I'll go into this in more detail as well). I'm sure if I asked the folks at Red Hook for a sample of their yeast, they would politely tell me to piss-off. However, the good biochemists and microbiologists at Wyeast Labs will gladly sell me anything they have.
The bottom line is that in about 2 months, I may or may not have a beer that tastes likes Red Hook ESB. If not, I'll have a beer that still tastes pretty good.