IBU has been an important craft beer label initialism for a number of years. It stands for International Bittering Units and it’s a numerical score that indicates (you guessed it) bitterness. In the beer world, the higher the number the more bitter the beer. Scores of 25 might represent a mild bitterness while a score of 100 or more might indicate a face-puckering bitterness. As a side note, bitterness isn’t limited to hop-heavy beer as stouts using roasted grains or coffee also present a bitterness.
Over past four to five years, the beer world has seemingly turned 180 degrees. Pushing the limits of 100 + IBU ales has given way to the pillowy soft juicy experiences of New England style IPA. Many brewers today forego the addition of bittering hops in the kettle in favor of a post-boil dry-hopping. While the boiling wort releases the bitter alpha acids found in hop oil, dry-hopping or late addition hops allow for a different hop experience.
Fractal Mosaic Galaxy by Equilibrium Brewing Tasting: January 30, 2018 Style: IPA Beer # 1,128 ABV: 6.8%
I really wasn’t impressed with my first can of Fractal Mosaic Galaxy. It was an easy-drinking beer that went down quick but it was demure and unassuming. While having my second can, it dawned on me the demure piece was bitterness. I see this beer in a whole new light. Taking it in slowly, Fractal Mosaic Galaxy offers up a swirling range of mellow hop characteristics like orange rind 90 points
Sometime over the summer, a friend told me that he was going to be working with a PBS program that was filming a segment featuring Hill Farmstead Brewery. He asked if I’d be interested in a quick road trip. I guess by now, you know my answer.
(C) 2017 popsonhops
Beautiful crisp fall morning in Burlington. A quick stop at a local coffee shop and we were on our way driving through the back drop of peak fall foiliage. We were probably the first people at the brewery and were welcomed to hang in the tap room while waiting for the crew to arrive.
(C) 2017 popsonhops
Enjoyed lunch and a fairly nice sized haul of goodies including twelve cans of Difference & Repetition. I had the opportunity to ask a couple of questions of the brewery manager. A new addition to the brewery was the availability of cans in the bottle shop. He said that they tested cans and were pleased that they held the flavor. He did say that they might notice a subtle difference after a few days but a consumer probably would not. The use of Hallertau Blanc hops was a new one on me. I know Hallertau hops as being one of the German noble hops but it doesn’t necessarily excite as part of an American-Style IPA. He explained that it was a newer variety, possibly in reaction to onslaught of New Zealand, Australian and hops from the American northwest.
My thoughts on Difference & Repetition…
Style: IPA ABV: 6.0% Beer #: 1,116
First few sips, explode with white wine grapes and the signature smooth polished mouthfeel of a Hill Farmstead ale. Orange, grapefruit rule. Really nice, 95 points.
The philosophical reference: Difference & Repetition is a 1968 book by philosopher Gilles Deleuze. I won’t even attempt giving you the Cliff Notes.
Head High Tasting: September 1, 2017 Style: American-style IPA Beer #: 1,102 ABV: 6.6%
I have foodie friends and when they gush on about certain dishes, they often describe the fresh flavor. I think everyone gets that sentiment, and it’s easy to distinguish the differences between freshly picked tomatoes from your garden and the flavorless red things sold at the supermarket. I think the same can be said for hop-based beer. A positive experience can be described as a beer that has a fresh hop flavor. That is a bit deceiving as many hops used are dried and pelletized and really aren’t fresh off the vine. I think the interpretation is that you can taste the true characteristics of the hop and the latest evolution of craft beer has brewers working to spotlight a fresh flavor.
For many years, hops were added primarily in mid-boil and late boil. The mid-boil hop addition converts the alpha acids found in hops to bitterness compounds. The late hop addition released enough hop oils to contribute to a beer’s aroma. The boiling of hops doesn’t do much for imparting that fresh hop flavor. Today, brewers are shifting away from the bitterness addition and concentrating on the late or post cooling by using hopbacks, whirlpools and dry/wet hopping. So, when someone say that a beer has a fresh hop flavor, a lot of creativity went into the finished product.
A friend stopped by Kane during a recent beach trip and picked me up a few four-packs of Head High and Overhead – 93 points. Purely a guess, but I think Head High and Overhead might describe wave heights as overhead represents an imperial IPA as compared to the base IPA.
I’ve had this beer many times and I’m surprised that it hasn’t appeared in my blog. Fresh hops abound here and Head High is a solid go to beer, 91 points.
If you want release information, Kane tends to make announcements via their Instagram Page