Hop Techniques That Fuel ‘Fruit’-Forward Beers

It takes trial and error, but Our Mutual Friend really finds that its Hop Excavator is bursting with fruit flavor.

One caveat, there’s no berry, grape or citrus added.

It comes down to hopping techniques, certain whirlpool additions, and lots of batches to find the right mix, explained OMF head brewer Jan Chodkowski.

​The Denver brewery debuted ​Hop Excavator, a Juicy IPA brewed with Nelson Sauvin, Azacca, Strata, and El Dorado​, in November​.

“Strata, El Dorado, Citra, and Mosaic are the hops we go to when we want straight-up fruit character and nothing else but we almost always blend in some hops with more dank and piney character to give some balance,” Chodkowski told Brewer. “We are getting some biotransformation on our dry hops which I think are contributing the most to fruit-forward hop characteristics but lower temperature whirlpools play a big role as well. It’s definitely a combination of the two.”

READ MORE: Our Mutual Friend to Celebrate Nine Years with New Beers & Bringing Back Favorites

​OMF brings​ all whirlpools down below 190​ degrees Fahrenheit​ before adding hops, and for some beers, Chodkowski said they get ​even ​lower.

​”​For us, it’s just the balance of certain hops that work better in the whirlpool and some work better for drying hopping and making sure we are getting maximum utilization for each hop we add to the beer​,” he said.​

Chodkowski noted that they have been focusing on which hops give the best usage from whirlpool additions and which ones are best used in dry hopping.

“We think El Dorado, Azacca, and Sabro are better used in the whirlpool than say Idaho 7 and Citra for dry hopping,” he said.

At 7.5% ABV, Stacked Universe is a West Coast-style IPA brewed with Colorado malts and El Dorado, Mosaic, Citra, and Idaho 7 to provide an equilibrium of citrus, piney, tropical and dank flavors.​ The beer was also released by OMF in November and Chodkowski said for WCIPAs, the IBUs have definitely come down to improve the overall drinkability.

“That lower IBU is also going to let drinkers enjoy softer grain bills and increased fruity hop aromas that they otherwise may not have,” he said.

​Both beers were born because of piloting different recipes over time.

“We ended up just combining a west coast hop profile and a juicy IPA hop profile which led us to Citra, Mosaic, Idaho 7, and El Dorado,” Chodkowski said. “It covers all the bases: piney, dank, citrusy, and tropical.”

​So what roles do yeast help play in the development of these beers? It’s all in how you control it and dry hop with it, Chodkowski said.

​”​We have a west coast strain and an east coast strain and we treat them the same in some beers and different in others​,” he said. ​”​Our west coast strain is super versatile and we use it in many different styles—everything from our slightly hazy pale beer, Inner Light, to some of our smoked beers.​”​

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