We have a new, biotransformation focused IPA series launching this week, but before we get into the development of this beer, it makes sense to talk a little bit about how we got into making hazy IPA in the first place.
Back in 2013 when I was first getting into the craft beer industry I actually low-key hated IPAs, ironic I know. This was in part because I just hadn’t developed a palate for certain components of hoppy beer but a big part of this was that we were still in the midst of the IBU wars and most IPAs tasted to me like resinous paint thinner. I remember one time someone recommended I try an IPA called Palate Wrecker and, while I’m sure it served its intended audience well, I personally hated it so much that I dropped it 6 stories from my apartment building into a dumpster to show the extent of my disdain for it. Despite my personal feelings for the style at that time, I recognized that if I was going to be making beer professionally I needed to figure out how to make an IPA I was proud of that still served the intended audience, so my journey with hops began.
As I acquainted myself with hops and hoppy beers at large I started to discover that not every varietal was a dank, resinous, bitter bomb and that there were a lot of newer varietals coming on the market that focused on sweeter fruit flavors. I also tried a handful of IPAs that appealed to me more because, despite their substantial bitterness, they had a more robust malt backbone to balance them. So I decided that my IPA would focus more on balancing the sweetness from the malt with the bitterness from the hops and focus on fruitier flavors. With this direction in mind I also considered one more component to make my IPAs a bit different from the norm, yeast selection. At the time most people were just using a clean, neutral yeast strain with the goal of contributing as little flavor impact as possible. At the time I was pretty set on using english yeast strains for the complexity they added from esters and residual sweetness, so I decided to stick to english yeast for my IPAs.
So I brewed my first handful of IPAs as a professional and quickly started turning dials. The first iterations were fruity, but I felt like they could go even further. I started playing with adding hops at different times to interact more with the yeast, changing up yeast selection to drive ester development and even mixing in non-traditional yeast cultures that were known for their ability to convert certain compounds in hops into even more complex fruit flavors and aromas. The overarching goal became making a hop driven beer that tasted like over-ripe tropical fruit and I would spend several years developing recipes and methods to achieve this.
For a long time “bio-transformation” has been a buzz word in our industry, but the mechanisms for what we were trying to do with hops to extract more tropical flavors was a bit of a back box. Over the last few years more research has been conducted into the specific mechanisms that we could employ to drive flavor development from yeast, specifically focused around IPAs, and several new products have emerged on the market for us to experiment with.
In the past year I started hearing talk about the flavor active compounds called thiols, that tasted of over-ripe tropical fruit and had been typical of certain wines for a long time. Research was being done to see if it was possible to drive the development of these flavors in beer with a special emphasis on driving tropical fruit flavor in hoppy beers. Products like Phantasm then started to explode onto the market as influential breweries started experimenting with them and were followed by the development of new genetically modified yeast and enzymes that would help potentiate the necessary reactions to develop more thiol driven flavors. We have been experimenting with an array of these products for several months now and the results have been absolutely mind blowing. For myself, I feel like we are finally creating the flavor profiles that I have been chasing for my entire career in brewing and now that we’ve started to get a good handle on how to tweak the dials with these products and methods we feel it’s time to add a new product to the portfolio.
So… all of this brings us to this week, where we are finally ready to introduce the first iteration of a beer that is intended to join our core lineup in 2022, Phanny Pack IPA. This new hoppy creation features one of our backbone hops, Citra, alongside a newly developed varietal that we have had a lot of success with called Idaho Gem. The base for this IPA was intended to be very soft and delicate, so we decided to used flaked wheat and triticale to build a fluffy mouthfeel as well as some malted wheat to add a grainy sweetness. Last but not least, we used a combination of Phantasm NZ, a powerized grape product from New Zealand, in conjunction with a genetically modified yeast called Cosmic Punch, which is capable of converting the precursors in several beer ingredients into the fruity compounds called thiols.
The goal with this new series is to drive as much of the over-ripe tropical fruit flavor as we can while presenting it on a canvas of pillowy malt and delicate sweetness. With each iteration we plan to tweak small pieces of the recipe until we feel that it is sufficiently dialed in to scale for full-time production. The first iteration is lightly sweet with notes of funky tropical fruit, heavy pineapple and delicate floral notes. Expect an easy drinking and balanced blend of hops and malt that fills the glass with unique tropical aromas but finishes sufficiently dry to beckon for the next sip.
We look forward to seeing what you all think of this first iteration as well as subsequent variations while we dial this beer in for scaling. Join us this weekend at the taproom to kick off this new chapter!