For the last couple of months, we’ve been brewing a lot of single hop IPA’s. This has been a way of showing off the quality of our selected hop contracts. Anyone that’s been following us for the last couple years knows that raw material quality is something that we take very seriously and these hops are the epitome of that mindset.
Every hop we have contracted now is an individual lot that we have determined to be the absolute best lot we can find of that variety. The varieties we have are Amarillo, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra. In order to get the quality of hop that we’re looking for, we have minimum purchase orders that are prohibitive for most breweries of our size. Fortunately, we have a tendency to use ludicrous amounts of hops in our IPA’s which makes the contract size reasonable for us. When we select our lots, there’s typically anything from 4 to 8 different lots to select from and each one has distinct qualities that helps us to make single hopped beers that are unique and that have a complexity rarely seen in single hopped beers. The Amarillo we selected has a distinctive ruby red grapefruit aroma and a dank quality that is notable with our high hopping rates. The Mosaic has a ripe blueberry aroma along with a little bit of a tangerine which, combined with our normal IPA yeast strain, creates a fruit salad aroma in a finished beer. The Citra is very bright, tropical, and has an intense lychee aroma that we’ve been honing in for a few years now. Lastly, the Simcoe is probably the hop variety that I’m most excited about.
Years ago, when Simcoe was still a hop that was very limited, the aromas it tended to give off were distinctly fruit punch and pine. Over the years, Simcoe has been planted more and more and a large portion of the lots being sold had lost some of that original character. Many people remember a time when Simcoe was “catty” and while its reputation still persists for having that characteristic, it’s been years since I’ve smelled any hops that have that unique aroma. One grower controls all of the Simcoe grown in America, which you’d think would lead to a consistent hop, but with the amount of acreage planted, each lot has varied wildly. It has been more and more difficult for small brewers to get Simcoe that I would consider to be of high quality. This year, about one third of the Simcoe grown is coming off of new vines that were planted from the original root stock. We were very fortunate to be able to get a contract for one of the most aromatic lots I’ve ever smelled and the aromas are much more typical of what I remember Simcoe smelling like when I started brewing back in 2009.
In addition to those contracted hops, we’ve also brewed two other single hopped beers (Comet and Idaho 7) with hops that were grown in Oregon, but were too limited in quantity to get individual lots on contract. Hopefully in 2020 the acreage will have increased to the point that we can get those premium lots on contract. All of the hops we’ve used for these beers have not just been grown in a specific terroir that resulted in these great aromas, but they’ve also been pelletized with low temperature pelletizers and used large screens to create a loose pellet, specifically designed for oil retention for use by craft brewers that want to focus on intense aromatics which is, obviously, perfect for IPA’s and Double IPA’s.
The last of our single hopped IPA’s (Citra and Mosaic) will be canned at the end of this week and we will move on to a new series of beers that will feature a blend of our 4 contracted hops. Using the results from our single hopped beers, we were able to come up with a blend that we believe will be the perfect blend of hops for this series. Our next round of three beers will be an IPA, a Double IPA, and our first Triple IPA, each one using all of the hops at an obscene dosing rate. Fittingly, this series will be named “All the Hops.” Be on the lookout for these beers to be canned at the end of Arizona Beer Week on February 15th!