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Commotion: A Change for the Better

The Japanese call it Kaizen. In simple terms that means “good change” or “continuous change.” It’s a mantra I learned while working at Amazon.com. Amazon adopted this philosophy to the fullest and are constant advocates for making things better within their vast array of operations. Believe me when I tell you, that an Amazon Fulfillment Center has more processes than any one person can manage. The amount of documentation and metrics is truly staggering. Processes are continually analyzed with a common goal of improving functionality, efficiency and safety. This mindset is something I took with me and try to practice across all aspects of Great Raft. I refuse to believe we can’t get better at everything thing we do. So let’s cut to the chase.

Commotion got a face lift. Truth be told, I’ve never LOVED this beer. I think it’s a good pale ale, but I never got too excited about it. Simply put, we work too hard to make beer we aren’t excited about. That’s not to say Commotion wasn’t a good beer. It’s just not the beer I wanted it to be. In a super competitive and crowded category, we needed our flagship pale to be killer.

The name is ironic because something about this beer has changed almost every single time we brewed it. Some of you may have noticed. While I didn’t announce the changes along the way, I haven’t denounced them either. The truth is, very few people have noticed the gradual changes. However, I have to tip my hat to those who drink a lot of this beer and have the palate to detect the changes. 

Despite our best efforts to keep the recipe somewhat intact, I found myself wanting to stop the minor changes and start over completely. The frustrating part is that we make great hoppy beer. All My Tomorrows, Grace and Grit, Make Believer and At Arm’s Length are all hoppy beers we love and are extremely proud of. In short, with Commotion we changed specialty grains, as well as both whirlpool and dry hops. We worked for months to trade hops, sign new contracts, and realign existing contracts to get the hops we wanted for this beer. Mosaic and Citra are new and really giving us the citrus and juicy aspects we were seeking.The base malt and bittering hop remain the same.

We have changed the yeast as well. The original Commotion used an ale strain called “Conan,” made popular by a little beer called Heady Topper. This yeast gave us fits. It was way too unpredictable and wound up throwing heaps of esters we didn’t need. The new strain is a low ester ale yeast that’s does its job and then gets outta the way to let the hops shine. The final product is juicier, more complex, and everything it should have been from day one.

On March 25th we packaged the first batch of new Commotion. Any kegs and cans in the market after that date reflect the new recipe. I’m happy to report I’m thrilled with this batch and very happy with the feedback received so far. You should be seeing this batch on tap and in cans in all markets. 

Thank you to those who loved and supported the original during our first year. It was very hard decision to change a beer that has done so well for us, but I think you will enjoy the new Commotion even more.

We will continue to challenge ourselves to be the best brewery we can be for Shreveport. 

Cheers everyone. I encourage you to go try to new Commotion and the entire Great Raft team thanks you for your support!