After brewing some lagers and Brett beer in December and January, things seemed like they had slowed down for a while at the brewery. Following the release of those beers, I had to get caught back up on brewing our IPA and Imperial Stout again and I felt like I hadn’t had anything to blog about in a while. That is all going to change in February. In the coming month we are set up to see some exciting new releases and they will all be coming available in a very brief time span.
First, we wanted to make sure that we had a good lineup for Arizona Beer Week and due to the popularity of our hoppy ales, we decided to add a few more to our lineup. This week will see a new version of a Double IPA, this time brewed with some newly released hop varieties, Denali and Eureka. The new double will be packed with the most intense hop aroma/flavor we can muster. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to make sure that we can pack even more hop flavor into this recipe than our last double IPA and we will be able to reduce the bitterness even a little bit more.
In addition to the Double IPA, we will be releasing a second single hop pale ale, this time featuring Cascade hops. However, this is not your average Cascade. Right before I made the move to Tombstone, I had flown out to Oregon to select a lot of Cascade. For those that don’t know, what we normally buy as small breweries is blends of varieties grown on different farms. Especially with the popularity of Cascade, any one box of hops may have Cascade grown on 10-15 different farms. While the growers typically say that the hops come from Yakima Valley, that is slightly misleading, since most brokers are blending hops from Yakima, Idaho, Michigan, and New York. While these blends are great for year to year consistency, it kind of sucks to think that great quality, highly aromatic hops from Yakima are being blended with subpar hops from Idaho.
So in September when I flew out to Oregon, my goal was to find the best Cascade I could. In my mind, I imagined the perfect Cascade as having an intense floral aroma and a grapefruit or orange peel aroma to compliment. The floral part being important due to our desire to utilize biotransformation of Geraniol (the hop oil that gives hops a rosy or floral aroma) into Beta-Citronella (which has the aroma and flavor of candied orange peel). Upon making my selection, I was informed by Crosby Farms that the lot I selected was the winner of the 2016 Cascade Cup and it was the first time that a farm from Oregon had won the competition. This specific Cascade lot is considered to be the best Cascade grown in America by a panel of expert judges and I was lucky to be able to get my hands on the last 3 boxes available.
As if those two beers weren’t enough, we will have our first releases from our steadily growing barrel program which will also be our first bottle releases.. Our INTENSELY smoky Strong Scotch Ale aged in Islay Scotch Casks (I hope you love Scotch, because this beer delivers it in bundles) will be available in 500 mL bottles. Following that release, we will have our Imperial Stout aged in Woodford Rye Whiskey barrels, Breckenridge Bourbon Barrels, and a Woodford Bourbon Barrel. The stout barrels have been tasting great and it has been fun to give friends samples to see which barrel they prefer most. I have taken a liking to the Woodford Rye which gives a great vanilla character from the barrel and pairs really well with the rich chocolate character of the base stout. The Bourbon Barrels seem to have taken on more of the character of the liquor itself, likely due to the way the cuts are made at the distilleries as they try to get more of the character of the mash in their bourbon. The bottles of each barrel will certainly make for a good side-by-side tasting and I think we will see that the consensus will be split among the three for which is best.
The last of the barrel aged beers is one that many people might find a little more unique: Berliner Weisse aged in Medium+ Toast White American Oak barrels. The oak character is really coming through well in that beer and is possibly the one that I am most excited about from our barrels so far. That first Berliner Weisse will be a preview of things to come for when we are ready to release fruited Berliner variants that have been aged in the same barrels a few weeks after the first release.
Now that we are back in the groove of brewing ales on a regular basis, stay on the lookout for a lot of exciting new hazy, hoppy ales in the next couple months!