This is the release of Solemn Oath's newest creation Strange Old Woods, a double dry-hopped New England-style India Pale Ale. The owls are not what they seem and this beer is properly hazed.
To be perfectly honest, my longtime stance towards this kind of beer had been somewhere between "Get off my lawn," and "Kids these days don't know what's good for 'em." Visual clarity is an achievable and desirable trait in beer. It leads to not only a more appealing appearance, but more clarity in flavor, less of what we call "muddiness" or "confusion" when a beer fails to punch its notes tight enough. We go to great lengths to clarify our beer at Solemn Oath and take pride in the consistency of the results and the effects on beer flavor. We also pack a great deal of hop aroma and flavor into our beer with typical hopping rates under two pounds per barrel (a barrel is thirty-one gallons).
To my great consternation, my crankiness and ideological rigidity did nothing to stem the growing appeal of Mississippi-bottom-like IPAs. I gave in and tried some with the intent of really understanding what makes them tick and why people lose their good judgment over them. I had some real duds--oniony, garlicky messes that were hopped to the point of being vegetal with no redeeming qualities. Beers so thick with suspended yeast that they had a harsh bite and left a feeling similar to the early stages of a gnarly sore throat. But I also had some real gems. Forbidden Root and Corridor are making great examples in Chicago. Theirs are bright with punchy hop flavors, the slightly creamy mouthfeel adds intrigue, and the elevated finishing gravity and relatively low bitterness combine to support and showcase tropical and citrus hop flavors. A skilled hand in hop selection, timing, and quantity goes a long way towards nailing the profile. I'm now a believer, but with great skepticism of any particular beer.
I do have one unyieldingly cranky observation: the word "juicy" is really off-the-mark in describing the sensory impact of this kind of beer, aside from the visual appearance of some too-murky examples. I think this term has led to brewers seeking murkiness for the sake of murkiness, when it really should just be a byproduct of making a beer with very high hop aroma and a round, interesting mouthfeel.
We added 15% each flaked oats and flaked wheat to the grain bill and adjusted mash water to 150 ppm calcium chloride and 75 ppm sulfate to achieve the coveted "round" mouthfeel, and mashed relatively high at 156F to increase the finishing gravity and thereby the body and relative sweetness (Snaggle is mashed at152, for comparison). The original gravity was 15.8 Plato. We withheld all kettle hops until 5 minutes remained in the boil, at which point we added 2/3 lb/bbl Amarillo. In the whirlpool, we added 2/3 lb/bbl each of Motueka and Galaxy. We fermented with London III at 68F and allowed the beer to rise to 72 after two days. With one degree Plato of attenuation remaining, the beer smelled incredibly dense with hop aroma, to the extent that we considered reducing our planned dry-hopping rate of 2 lbs/bbl. We decided against the adjustment and dry-hopped with 2/3 lb/bbl of Amarillo. The theory put forth by some brewers here is that dry-hopping while yeast is still active can add additional hop aroma to beer because the hop matter will be moving around in the beer due to the release of CO2 by the yeast. I'm skeptical, but we gave it a ride. Four days later, we dry-hopped with 2/3 lb/bbl each of Motueka and Galaxy. The final gravity was 4 Plato (Snaggle is 2.5 for comparison) and the ABV 6.5%. The result was a beer that was too opaque for our liking, and we decided to fine the beer with our normal silica-based fining. The hop aroma we aimed for here is a balance of lime, passionfruit, and tangerine, and I believe they show up in that order by prominence. I haven't tasted the finished, carbonated beer yet, so we'll see how it all fits together soon. I'm super interested in hearing your take on this one, so meet me and the Bookhouse Boys at the double R and let me know what you think."
Date of Release: Friday, July 21 at 4PM at Solemn Oath Brewery
Eats: For this event we will be partnering with the fine people of Standard Market. Chef Ajesh Deshpande has pulled together a menu featuring New England Lobster rolls, crab cakes with kohlrabi slaw, and fish and chips. Trust us, these are all things you need in your life.
Strange Old Woods
Double Dry-Hopped New England-Style IPA
$19.99 / 4PK 16oz Cans - No Limit
Just 60 cases available
No growler fills
While Supplies Last