In 2001, Dogfish Head owner and brew master Sam Calagione developed a new technique of delivering hops to his beer and the world hasn’t been the same since. I suppose we can give him all sorts of stink eye if there’s a world-wide hop shortage any time soon.
It was with his 90 Minute IPA that he came up with continuous hopping. While the beer went through its boil phase (in the case of the “Minute” releases, the numbers correspond to the length of the boil) a conveyer-like device slowly pushed a steady supply of hops into the kettle. Whereas most beer receives a dose of bittering hops in the beginning of the boil and a final aromatic dose towards the end, 90 Minute was gorged with hops for an hour and a half.
The new technique would be employed in many of Sam’s beers from that point on. Other breweries have attempted to replicate the machine – Dogfish calls theirs Sir Hops-A-Lot – with little success. Calagione’s device is so accurate that they can even control the International Bitterness Units to the number!
Seeing a similar machine in action I’m reminded of industrial ice cream makers like the one in the kitchen on Food Network’s awesome chef competition series “Chopped.” The hops are slowly pushed through an extruder tube where they spill in sticky clumps into the beer. Unfortunately I haven’t had luck finding video of the O.G. Dogfish machine operating. A wise move on their behalf as there are many would-be imitators who would love to utilize Sam’s proprietary instruments.
One such continuously hopped offering from Dogfish Head is their Aprihop IPA. Just like the beers in the “Minute” series, Aprihop is also dry-hopped; in this case with mid-range alpha acid Amarillo hops. Unlike the “Minute” beers, it’s dosed with apricot juice. Now, if this sounds unappealing to you, consider that there are many hops that naturally impart flavors of tropical and stone fruits to the beer. This is simply a flavorful amplification.
Fresh apricots are only now flowering in the Middle East and China, so they won’t be ripe for approximately 3 more weeks. Get your Prunus armeniaca fix early with a glass of Aprihop. Copper hued with orange tints and a decent head, Aprihop’s scents are a balance of juniper, lemon peel, toasty malt, peach and, of course, apricot. Adding that juice really helps to temper the hops’ bitterness without tipping over to the cloying side. Flavors of caramel, pine, citrus (take your pick!), bread and that wonderful apricot all vie for attention. The body is medium to full giving the beer a satisfying heartiness while retaining a crisp finish.
We’re hosting a Dogfish Head Beer Tasting tomorrow. Stop in to sample this and a few other Dogfish beers Thursday, March 19 from 7 to 9 pm.