Like any consumer who wants to know where their food or drink comes from, I’m a beer enthusiast who wants to know where a brand’s hops come from, who grows them, their chemistry and a rundown of their flavor profile. Schlafly Beer feels the same way.
Every six weeks, the brewery releases a new rotating SMaSH beer, which is a single hop, single malt beer where the hop is the only changing variable. It’s a great way for drinkers to learn and enjoy the unique taste of an individual hop, and its’ a great way for Schlafly to experiment with beers and new hop breeds (as consumers are encouraged to share their feedback of the beer on the brewpub’s Hop Trial board and now online). In fact, in addition to tasting notes, Hop Trial beer drinkers can learn even more about the hop’s origin, the brewery’s relationship with the farm and more at a brand new website — hoptrials.com.
From the press release:
CEO James Pendegraft explains, “In our 25-year history, we’ve established some deep relationships with hop farmers around the world. We work directly with the farmers who grow our ingredients, and we’re often asked by hop growers to provide feedback about how a hop performs in the brewing process. Our Hop Trial program allows consumers to have a say in the hop as well.”
The Hop Trial program is something Schlafly created to test out hops that are looking to be introduced into the market, while offering feedback to the hop farmers. Schlafly begins the process by combining a base malt and single hop to create a simple SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beer, which brings out the individual qualities of each ingredient, making the profile of the featured hop variety the true focus. For the Hop Trial SMaSH beers, Schlafly brewers use the same amount of hops in each brew (32 pounds), add the hops at the same brewing time and use the same malt. For example, this month’s trial is of X331, a hop from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The Schlafly team discovered the hop on their yearly trip to the Pacific Northwest to visit the Indie Hops group. From the press release:
Head of Brewing Operations, Emily Parker, felt the hop would be great to trial due to its strong tropical fruit and citrus characteristics. “The hops smelled like juicy fruit. I knew that we had to trial it just based on its aroma.”
Schlafly’s Quality Assurance team then tests the beer before it’s released at the brewpubs to consumers, whose feedback is crucial in order to determine the future potential of pursuing a particular hop to use in the brewery’s beers that educate. In addition to the rotating brewpub draft offerings, Schlafly also releases a Hop Trial sampler pack every summer that allows consumers to compare SMaSH beers from four very different hops.