Podcast Episode 347: Preston Theony of Wren House Embraces Change as a Constant and Flavor Over Style

Whether it’s flipping a session-strength porter between ale and lager fermentation, or moving hops from the whirlpool to the dry hop in hazy IPAs, there’s not much that the head brewer for Phoenix’s Wren House won’t change. Just don’t ask him to alter more than one variable at a time—and don’t mess with his chocolate rye!

Jamie Bogner Mar 1, 2024 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 347: Preston Theony of Wren House Embraces Change as a Constant and Flavor Over Style Primary Image

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Black Caddis began as one of Preston Theony’s homebrew recipes, but rather than create a take on an existing style, he started with the flavor he wanted to achieve and built a recipe to realize it. Now, after brewing the beer commercially at Wren House for the better part of the past decade, he’s still not done experimenting with the recipe or the process, including the fermentation itself. More recently, he’s moved the beer from a Kölsch yeast to lager fermentation using the 34/70 strain, aiming to amplify the “clean, cutting characteristic” that Theony seeks. It’s dark, in the 4 percent ABV range, and sold in one of the hottest regions in the United States—so drinkability is paramount.

Likewise, Theony has never stopped tinkering with their core hazy IPA, despite Spellbinder’s gold medal at the 2020 GABF. With the caveat that anything he mentions doing in this podcast is subject to change, this is just a snapshot of where they are at this brewing moment. With that said, through the conversation, he touches on:

  • switching to lager fermentation with a shorter lagering time to give Black Caddis porter more edge
  • layering Carafa, C-120, Carafoam, and chocolate rye malt for broad flavor in a small beer
  • hyper-focusing on pH throughout the brewing process
  • reducing whirlpool hops and boosting dry hops to improve drinkability
  • using Galaxy as a bridge between Citra and Mosaic
  • dry hopping early, and capping the tank
  • approaching awards season as a time to reflect and improve beers
  • evaluating competition feedback

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].