I’ve written in several recent articles about how the hop shortage is limiting my ability to brew big, crazy, west-coast-style hop-bombs. Today was step one in my plan to horde hops, in preparation for brewing Hump’s Brain Bludgeoner. I was happy to see Doug’s store doing well and busy and still with a fridge full of hops today. I placed the one ounce of Tettnanger I needed for my dunkelweizen on the counter and also a two-ounce pack of Glacier hop plugs. I asked Doug if he minded me buying extra hops as long as I was still getting no more than three ounces. He had no problem at all and keyed me in to some good news: there are some hop varieties that he can continue to get. They aren’t the popular varieties, though. Cascade, for instance, due to its popularity, is in very short supply; but Glacier, a slightly more obscure variety, is one of the hops that he can still get from his suppliers. So he didn’t mind selling me extra. He also told me of its virtues and how everyone he knows that has tried his Glacier Pale Ale really loves it. That only strengthened my desire to use it in an upcoming double IPA.

The double IPA I’ve crafted will require six ounces of high-alpha hops for five gallons of beer. Not too long ago, I thought that was an outrageous amount of hops. I even wrote about that being excessive when I talked about the amount of hops used to brew Sam Adams Hallertauer Imperial Pilsner. Using standard methods for calculating IBUs, my beer will weigh in at about 130 IBU. This is of course on paper only. In reality, the chemistry of IBUs put a physical limit of around 100 – maybe a little more (the Sam Adams beer is 110 IBU – measured, not calculated). That sounds like a lot, but I’ve read recipes for double IPAs that call for far more. The “award-winning” recipe in Jamil Zainasheff’s and John Palmer’s latest book (Brewing Classic Styles) is based on a clone of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and calls for a whole pound of high-alpha hops!! Using standard methods to calculate IBUs, that would be 284 IBUs – outrageous! The actual beer is closer to between 90 and 100 IBUs.
Next in the brewing line up, after Hump’s Dunkles Hefeweissbier, will be Hump’s Black Kriek: a Robust Porter with a large addition of sour cherries. And after that, I should have enough hops accumulated to cook up the Brain Bludgeoner.

Speaking of hops and the hop shortage, our near-and-dear Terrapin Beer Company finally has a brewery of its own. Until recently, their beer was contract brewed in Maryland and then shipped to Georgia. Now it will be made in Georgia. Their beers are generally quite good – good enough for me to forgive them for picking Athens as their brewery location (after all, I’m a Yellowjacket, and Athens is the home of the Bulldogs). They have taken the opposite tact as most brewers: they are making a ridiculous, over-the-top hop-bomb in the face of the hop scarcity. They have even named this new brew Hop Shortage. It will be a one-time release, part of a new series of unique, single-batch brews – made possible by the fact that they now have their own brewery. You can read more about it here.

In other news, I will be bottling my Fiftieth Brew tonight. It has aged in the keg over a month now, and is quite good. Flavors of chocolate, dark toast, and citrus hops are strong, and it finishes dry with a strong bitterness from both citrusy and piney hops and from alcohol. But I have to move it into bottles to make room for the Reeb.

Speaking of which, I tasted the Reeb this afternoon, while drawing a sample to read its finishing gravity. It tastes pretty good. The dry-hops didn’t make quite as big of a punch as in the Fiftieth Brew, but it does have a decent hop presence in the nose and front of the palate. It has a solid, fruity bitterness in the finish, and a nice light, dry, bready maltiness in between. It will taste great once it has some more bubbles in it…