This weekend finds us going back up to Atlanta as guest brewers for Sweet Water’s annual Brew Your Cask Off party. Hopjacks and I are truly honored to be a participant for the third year in a row.
The first year I made a beer for the party it was overloaded with Ancho chili powder. Just sheer luck I wasn’t awarded the worst beer of the day; that lucky soul gets to wear a gold-painted commode seat around their neck for the duration of the event. Last year’s entry had me putting a zymurgic spin on Japanese Mochi Cake thanks to the inspiration of Hopjacks honcho Joe Abston. The beer had a list of odd ingredients; jasmine green tea, mugwort and red beans. To that I added Belgian pale candy sugar and Trappist yeast.
The beer turned out great, but everyone said the same thing: It’s awesome, but it’s not very beer-like… More like a peach iced tea.
This year, we’ve tweaked the recipe a bit. To ensure it comes across as a beer I dry-hopped the cask with Mosaic and Ahtanum to boost the citrus peel flavors while providing moderate bittering. Then I added clover honey to the sugar and swapped the Trappist yeast for Belgian Ardennes yeast; all of this upon a base of pale wheat ale.
Those Mosaic hops were courtesy of Gary Yetter, owner of Gary’s Home Brew Supply out on Blue Angel Parkway. Knowledgeable, personable and friendly, Gary is an all-around great guy. Any of you considering getting into home brewing absolutely has to go see him. He will put you on the right path and give you valuable advice along the way.
If you haven’t been to BYCO, you should go. It’s a beer lovers’ paradise! There will be over 90 ten-gallon casks of personalized beer at your disposal plus access to the brewery’s magnificent tasting room and gift shop.
Anyone who knows Sweet Water is aware that BYCO isn’t the only time of year they do experimental beer. When they’re feeling really squirrely, they release one of their mad scientist Dank Tank projects. Not too long ago, they made one called Hop Hash that they deemed too good to offer only once.
Hop Hash is now a part of their year-round core brand of beers! This double India Pale Ale gets a potent punch of hops by way of scraping lupulin oil resin – the sticky part of hops – out of the pelletizer machine and adding it to the liquid. The beer is titian in color with a very bubbly head and stripy lacing. Scents and flavors both exhibit a massive tropical fruit quality of papaya, passion fruit and a hint of mango with zippy grapefruit and soft apricot. The concentration of hop oil makes Hop Hash medium-bodied with a clinging finish.
This beer sets the bar very high! I can only hope my BYCO entry can do the brewery justice.