Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hoppy Holidays

With Christmas quickly approaching and the New Year looming shortly after that, we here in the Lompoc empire decided to explore the possibility of revamping our year round lineup. It comes as no surprise that tastes have changed since we opened in 1996. Back then, Amber Ales and Pale Ales dominated brewery taplists across the country and IPAs were the "extreme" beer du jour. For Northwest beer drinkers, IPA has become the standard style, a beer that pleases both those new to craft beer and the hardcore beer geek. With this in mind we've begun working on a reworking of our hoppy beer lineup to bring it in line with changing tastes. Don't worry, our flagship C-Note will remain unchanged but we'll be adding a new Imperial IPA to the mix.

With the growing popularity of hoppy beers across the country, and the growing number of breweries (the Brewers Association lists over 700 breweries in planning in addition to the 1,927 already in operation) some of the more sought after hop varieties are becoming hard to come by. Some of the more popular "new school" hop varieties (Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo) are particularly scarce in most parts because they are trademark protected and grown exclusively by a few select growers. This shortage can become a serious problem for breweries when they can't get a hold of the necessary hops for a popular beer (see Laurelwood's decision to discontinue their popular Workhorse IPA). On the flipside, these shortages force brewers to become more creative in their hop usage, either by creating entirely new beers, or using different hop blends to mimic a similar flavor.

That being said, we come back to our new Imperial IPA. Some may recall a beer named Peregrine Imperial IPA we've brewed for the Sasquatch Brewfest the last two years. Our new Imperial will be based on the original Peregrine but without Simcoe hops. I've taken it as a challenge to create a blend of hops to mimic the characteristic pine and tropical fruit notes of Simcoe using hop varieties we have in adundance. I'll be brewing a series of test batches using different hop blends. The first batch, which I transfered to a brite tank yesterday, will be on tap starting next week and uses Columbus, Chinook, and Cascade along with generous amounts of Perle. Come in to any of our pubs next week and let us know what you think. Until next time, Hoppy Holidays and cheers!

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