For the brewers at Perrin Brewing Company, the inspiration for a beer which didn’t exactly adhere to any particular beer style came from a line from the cult classic film, The Big Lebowski.
They were sitting around in the brewery one day and one spoke up, “This is craft beer, there are no rules.” To the team at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, brewery, that line made a lot of sense. So they set out to create a new style to showcase this belief.
“They were throwing around ideas about what we’d like to see and they weren’t traditional beers,” Perrin brewer Conner Klopcic said. “We started with what we knew we wanted at the end of the process and worked backward to create the recipe.”
The group had settled on making a new style called a Vietnamese Porter, which led them to figure out what the style would include. The recipe needed to include coconut and turbinado sugar, they concluded, working to build the base recipe from those two ingredients.
“We went straight backwards with the recipe,” Klopcic said. “Usually we know the style and there’s a base to start. We had to think how much of this goes in? How much goes there?”
When No Rules Vietnamese Porter made its first debut at the Perrin taproom in 2015, no customer had ever tried the beer, but the 12-ounce bottles sold out in an hour. That night, they were selling for more than $100 online and the brewery was shocked at what they had created.
Klopcic likes to concentrate on the bourbon flavor and how it plays with the coconut.”
As customers got wind of the beer and began to taste the 15% alcohol by volume beer, they latched on, Klopcic said. The beer spends several months in bourbon barrels.
“The 15% makes it really special right off that bat, because it comes from a ton of sugar we ferment out and it actually drinks really light,” he said. “The 15% grabs attention, but it doesn’t drink like that. It’s just so complex with all the different flavors and each time you drink it, you notice something different.”
Klopcic likes to concentrate on the bourbon flavor and how it plays with the coconut, along with the sweetness from the sugar which balances out the high alcohol burn. He also notices vanilla from the barrel and added cinnamon on the front end.
The release of No Rules garnered attention from Rate Beer, which called it the World’s Top New Beer Release of 2015 and gave it a score of 100. Draft Magazine also called it the Number 1 Winter Sipper of 2016.
The beer carries a caricature of The Big Lebowski character Walter Sobchak, who uttered the famous “No rules” line, and a colored bowling ball on the label. The bowling ball’s color changes with the year’s vintage, but the base beer is still excellent as it changes.
“We’ve been very shocked with the attention,” Klopcic said. “We’ve tried to make a little bit more each year, but it’s never been enough.”