ur high-end Hazy IPA’s are affectionately referred to as the #Science series around the brewery. Over the past couple of years, since brewing our first hazy, we’ve delved deep into the science behind hop flavor & aroma; how to extract the most from those tasty little cones. Unfortunately, there are more hypotheses than hard facts at the moment regarding the best ways to make a juicy IPA with the silky-smooth mouthfeel we all crave. Therein lies the purpose for this series. We use the science that does exist to lead us down paths that seem most likely to yield the desired results. And along the way, we’ll test some of the hypotheses that require further study to know for sure what effect they have on a beer’s flavor and structure.
For example, our first #Science hazy was called Recreational Chemistry. We designed a malt bill that addressed the finding in one study which holds that beers with high protein and carbohydrate levels have significantly more intense dry-hop flavor. The addition of chit malt provided higher levels of beta-glucans, adding to the desired effect. We also selected hops and used them in the boil, whirlpool, and dry-hop processes in such a way as to extract the maximum amount of linalool; the oil in hops most closely associated with citrusy flavors.
With our second go-round, called Lost Words, we were looking to leverage the synergistic effect from having specific hop oils, terpenes and thiols all present at the same time. A heavy dose of Amarillo hops in the whirlpool provided the chemical pre-cursors that allow for biotransformation of geraniol into citronellol. There are also significant levels of the thiol 4MMP in the Amarillo which, in combination with the Sabro dry-hops and their high level of linalool, provided luscious tropical fruit flavors including pineapple, passionfruit and coconut. Finally, we have employed the β-glycosidase enzyme to breakdown glycosylated aroma precursors. This helped release those aromatic precursors from the hops for intense and complex aromas.
Our latest #science creation will keep you smilin'
A Hazy standout, Control for Smilers pairs Southern Cross and Idaho 7 hops, for big hits of apricot, grapefruit, papaya, lemon and mild pine needles. Using Spelt in the mash provides a slightly sweet, nutty/spicy flavor to compliment the hops. Try not to smile. We dare you.
We were excited when we heard that Yakima Chief Hops had conducted a study using 35 different hop varieties to determine their beer soluble compounds including monoterpene alcohols, thiols and hop derived esters. They then ranked each variety based on the "survivability" of these various compounds throughout the brewing process and into your glass. Upon reviewing the data, we took the top three "survivors" and blended them for a beer we called Your Opacity. Large doses of Idaho 7 and Bravo were used in the whirlpool to generate flavors reminiscent of apricot, orange, candied lime & papaya due to the biotransformation of Geraniol into B-citronellol. The use of Mosaic in the dry-hop contributed large amounts of the Thiol 3S4MP. This amplified the effects of the Linalool and Geraniol along with the hop-derived ester 2MIB, which added a distinct apricot flavor. It also lent big aromas of citrus, pine, peach & mango.
Later explorations included testing various malt combinations to weigh their effect on extracting desirable hop characteristics. One such test involved the addition of Triticale malt, which behaves like a wheat while adding the rustic, savory notes more commonly associated with rye. But for our purposes, the important piece was its high protein content. Studies have shown that higher protein beers have significantly more intense dry-hop flavor; the theory being that the higher protein content is binding volatile hop compounds that would otherwise be knocked out of solution. Like wheat, the mouth feel is fantastic; very round and full without being too sweet. But it also has the earthiness and mild spice notes associated with rye, yet lacks the bitterness that sometimes makes rye so divisive.
We have so many more theories to explore, it seems like we’re just getting started. So keep your eyes peeled for a new #Science beer coming to a local bottle shop near you soon!