Delivering high levels of fresh hop flavor and hop aroma are calling cards for U.S. craft brewers. These beer tinkerers often employ innovative techniques and customized equipment to not only extricate hop flavor but use hop supplies efficiently. The classic example is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery using a vintage vibrating magnetic football board game back in the day to continually hop its IPAs; now it uses machines like Me So Hoppy and Sofa King Hoppy to perfect that process. Tröegs Brewing Co. utilizes a BrauKon HopGun, and New Belgium Brewing Co. has its Dry Hop Dosing Skid.
Stone Brewing Co. recently caught our attention with a similarly interesting hop process. The company just announced its Stone VirtuALE IPA, the latest liquid exploration into the world of experimental hop tech. The beer incorporates a first-use technology simply called Incognito, which is a new proprietary technique for processing hop extracts. The resulting Citra and Mosaic extracts highlight different qualities of the otherwise familiar hops. While hop extracts have been around for years, new processes for separating the lupulin from the plant material offer new layers of complexity for brewers to explore. From the press release:
“We were fortunate to be asked by one of our hop suppliers, John I. Haas, to participate in an early trial using this new hop product,” said Jeremy Moynier, Stone Brewing senior innovation brewing manager. “We have worked with different people in the industry doing hop trials for several years at Stone. We have played with some hop extracts as well, which can add an exciting dimension to our innovation process. We’ve tested some of these in combination with other hops and in this case, we combined hop pellets with hops from the Incognito process. The final beer is definitely unique, adding another dimension to this really cool IPA.”
While this is more of a process than a piece of equipment (something like the hop hash used by Sweetwater Brewing Co.), we found it exceedingly interesting, and we’ve reached out to Stone to find out how much they can share about the process.
With West Coast bitter roots and a dank hop kick that finishes surprisingly tropical, Stone VirtuALE IPA pours light gold carrying floral, resin and grapefruit aromas. Flavors of berry upon grapefruit and hibiscus give this beer a soft bitter finish complemented by a light hint of honey. This dankly resinous tropical delight is available in 22 oz bottles and draft in select states nationwide.