One of the beauties of being a small micro-brewery is that we have the flexibility and freedom to explore and expiriment with our beers. Head Brewer Derek's newest idea was to allow you to explore the flavor complexities of different types of hops and how they affect the final product through a series of dry-hopped casks of Flipswitch IPA with a single hop varietal. See the schedule of releases below.
IPAs and the Role of Hops in the Brewing Process
Hops play an important role in the brewing process and serve multiple purposes from perservation and balance to flavor and aroma. Hops contain two types of acid -- alpha acid (which we will adress later) and beta acid, which have been found to counteract and delay the inevitable spoilage of a raw product as well as add aroma. In the late 18th Century, beer was being shipped from England to India, and for the sake of preservation, extra hops were added with the idea that as the beer fermented the extra hop flavor would dissipate. Needless to say, it didn't, and the overly-hopped beer was a hit, gaining the name India Pale Ale, or IPA.
Photo courtesy of worldclassbeer.com
Hops also play a role in balancing the flavor of sweetness gained from the malting process. The alpha acids contained in hops contain a bittering effect used to balance the sweetness. "Bittering" hops contain larger amounts of these alpha acids and are largely responsible for the bittering flavor of the beer. "Aroma" hops generally contain a lower number of alpha acids and are the contributors of hop aroma, or non-bittering flavors.
On the topic of aroma, almost a quarter of your sense of taste is linked to your sense of smell, so the 'nose' or aroma of a beer has a great effect on the flavor. Certain hops are known to produce certain aromatic qualities and are therefore specifically used for their effect on the nose and subsequently flavor. The process of dry-hopping involves adding the hops after the beer has finished primary fermentation. This doesn't allow any time for the alpha (or bittering) acids to be extracted from the hops, leaving only the freshest aromatic qualities in nose and flavor.
Photo courtesy of ars.usda.gov
The hops traditionally used in our flagship, the Flipswitch IPA, are Chinook, Warrior, Citra, and Centennial. They form the blend the co-founders determined (by years of homebrewing!) to be the perfect balance of bitterness and aroma that were more fruit/citrus (IPAs and pale ales at the time the recipe was made were more pine/floral), with a nice malty backbone. Flipswitch is the base for the series of single dry-hopped casks.
The series release is going to walk you through bittering to aroma so you can experience these different levels of flavor and aroma intensity and further understand the role hops play in the complexity of the beer.
The schedule is as follows:
8/13 at 4pm: Flipswitch IPA dry-hopped with Chinook
- Chinook is a bittering hop variety with aroma characteristics. It is also considered a high alpha acid hop with a nice herbal, almost smoky, character when used as an aromatic when dry-hopped.
8/20 at 4pm: Flipswitch IPA dry-hopped with Warrior
- Warrior hops are a strong bittering variety with a mild aroma, and adds an excellent bite and a bitter foundation to beer.
8/27 at 4pm: Flipswitch IPA dry-hopped with Centennial
- Centennial is an aroma hop variety with mild bittering tendencies, with notes of flowers and citrus.
9/3 at 4pm: Flipswitch IPA dry-hopped with Citra
- The Citra hop is a newer cultivar (2007). It is very aromatic and has strong citrus and tropical tones of grapefruit, melon and lime.
RSVP to the release events here, and don't forget to invite your friends!