A few years ago, hop prices shot through the roof and the worldwide hop market went into a tailspin. We decided there was only one thing for us to do – we had to make the biggest, hoppiest IPA that we could, then age it on oak for good measure! We were just that nuts about hops.
Enter: Hop Crisis. This Imperial IPA is brewed each year with different dry hops and aged on American oak spirals. Hop Crisis is part of our Insurrection Series, which is an occasional series released throughout the year. Insurrection Series beers are a typically stronger and brewed with unique flavors and ingredients. We usually make smaller batch sizes of these beers and feature them in four-packs and on draft.
We like to have a lot of fun with the dry hopping. There are so many new hop varietals coming into the market with different flavors and aromas. The fun is picking and choosing the which hops go into this monster of a hoppy beer. It really is about the marriage of cooking and science in building this beer. We used a relatively new experimental hop (so new it doesn’t have a name yet) “HBC-342,” known for it’s tropical fruit and melon notes. We also added some big aroma hops, Citra, Amarillo and Saaz. You don’t typically see Saaz which is a noble hop in IPAs, but I think it adds some spiciness in the flavor and aroma. We also dry hopped at two different temperatures. Remember, dry hopping is when you are adding hops into the fermenter for aroma. Typically this occurs when the beer is warm, around 68 degrees. We did this with all the hops listed above, but then lowered the temperature to 55 degrees. Then, we added Cascade and a newer hop, “Au Summer” from Australia, that has a light apricot and melon fruit flavor. When adding hops at a lower temperature, it gives a more earthy hop flavor than adding them at warmer temperatures where the hop brightness is more distinct.
We get asked a lot about the name of this beer. Originally, the name featured a question mark – “Hop Crisis?” This was a topical, tongue-in-cheek commentary on the widespread panic that was happening over hop prices. It was also a little bit of swagger on our part. Just a little. Hop pricing was crazy back in the early millennium, with hops being sold for as high as $28/ pound compared to $7/pound just a few years before.
Another huge component of this brew is the addition of oak sprials. Aging beer on oak imparts a woody, tannic quality and can overwhelm the hops if done too heavy-handedly. Instead, we looked for a light, subtle oak character to accentuate the dry hop bitterness. The good folks at Barrel Mill in Avon, Minnesota make these amazing oak spirals. The oak adds a unique flavor that compliments this big big beer.
Shaun and Nico