Holiday Hops

Bev Blackwood - What I drank on Fathers Day.

I hope all the dads out there had a great Father's Day yesterday and got to tip back a few choice brews with the family!I tried two new Stone beers for the first time this weekend, Ruination Double IPA 2.0 and Enjoy By 07.04.15 IPA, which got me to thinking about how much our taste in beer has changed. The San Diego style, big hop forward beers, would have been unthinkable not so long ago.In short, these are not your Father’s beers!You can see that by going back and paging through beer books published back in the 1980s.A personal favorite of mine is Fred Eckhardt’s The Essentials of Beer Style. I met Fred for the first time at the 1997 Dixie Cup Homebrew Competition and got to know him well since he returned every year to entertain us with food and beer pairings until retiring from that role in 2008. He was among the first to classify beers and outline the characteristics they shared. The Essentials of Beer Style was part of every homebrewer’s library and outlined the style parameters (original gravity, alcohol content, IBU’s and color) of a great number of beers being produced at that time.Even the most cursory glance at the IBU column in his book shows that hops simply weren’t that important back then.Indeed, if you were to serve some of today’s IPA’s and Double IPA’s, I daresay some of them would have been regarded as undrinkable.

Styles change though! Stone has long been an innovator in the craft beer community and they have excelled at pushing the boundaries of ingredients, collaborations and use of hops.I still regard their 17th Anniversary Beer, Götterdämmerung IPA, as one of the best beers I’ve ever had.Ruination 2.0 lacks the finesse of that beer, but still brings the hops on every channel.It doesn’t have the bright candied orange flavors I get in Firestone Walker’s Double Jack, but is instead grapefruit pith with a hint of tropical fruit and a dank, resinous herbal character backed by substantial alcohol sweetness and a light caramel malt note.Enjoy By 07.04.15 is even less subtle.It’s got warming alcohol and a solid hop bitterness that combines with the alcohol to finish crisp and dry.Again, the herbal and resin notes are the primary hop character of the beer, yet here they take a back seat to the 9.4% alcohol level. (As a comparison, in Fred’s book, one of the hoppiest beers he describes was 1975s Liberty Ale from Anchor, with 54 IBU’s and 6% ABV!)While your father might not have deemed these latest creations of the brewer’s art drinkable, I’m grateful that today’s dads have more options than ever for celebrating Father’s Day!

The Author

Bev Blackwood II is the Southwest Brewing News Contributing Editor for Texas and has been covering Texas beers for 17 years An award winning home brewer, Bev has also brewed professionally at St. Arnold Brewing Company and was part of the team that brought home Saint Arnold’s first Great American Beer Festival gold medal in 2007. A long time member of Houston’s premiere homebrew club, the Foam Rangers, Bev teaches their Beer Judge Certification Program course and has also taught at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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