Monday, November 5, 2012

Behind the Beers: Himalayan IPA

The TTB (Tobacco & Trade Bureau) is what now governs all beer labels (replaced the more familiar ATF).  When I first wanted to start selling kegs of this beer outside our brewpub walls I thought I needed COLA label approval, so I went through the whole online process for submitting my Keg Label Collars.   Woah!  That was a learning experience.  Did you know if we were to bottle our IPA it would have to be renamed?  At the very least it was suggested we’d have to change the name to Himalayan-style IPA because the name misleads the buying into thinking it was “actually made in the Himalayas.”  Turns out I did this whole process for not.  As long as I don’t bottle/can or distribute out of the state, I don’t need label approval to sell my kegs out of house.  So as of now the name is still “Himalayan IPA.”  Not even the Brewer’s Association at the GABF cared about the name when they awarded us a gold medal in 2010 for this beer in the American-style Strong Pale Ale category.

This recipe was another Chris Kennedy creation.  It hasn’t changed since I came on board, but looking back into the history books (the recipe log), Chris tweaked and changed the hopping bill and hopping schedule many times. Rarely did he repeat the exact same recipe.   I think what we have is a rock-solid recipe that needs just consistency from batch to batch on the process side of things, so I don’t change the recipe.

One story I can tell where I experimented with the process was nearly disastrous.  Our IPA is dry-hopped with 3.75lbs of Cascade and Columbus hops (it actually has 3.75lbs of total hops per bbl to be exact!)  Anyways there are two obvious ways to dry-hop a beer, warm and cold.  Let me explain the differences.  If one warmly dry-hops a beer, the oils will more likely dissolve and you get better extraction before cold-crashing the yeast. The issue is that all the hops particles don’t stay in suspension and they also drop out.  Whereas with cold-hopping, you cold-crash first. (this is NOT cold crashing!)  Then the hops stay in contact with the beer much longer without settling (cloudier beer too) but the trade off of longer contact time means the colder temperature won’t dissolve as many of the oils.

The punch line is that I tried cold-hopping instead our usual warm-hopping and our regulars noticed!  They didn’t like the taste change and I reverted back to the warm-hopping.

Other than that, the gold medal, the only other thing I can say about this beer is that it has always been our number one selling beer (summer and winter) and won’t be going away anytime soon, or ever for that matter.  If you haven’t had a pint for awhile, check it out and maybe you’ll appreciate the beer a little more knowing what’s Behind the Beer.


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