Just kidding, not an IPA but a rare Lagunitas Farmhouse Gueuze, in a metal cup nonetheless.
I recently competed in a homebrew competition put on by the Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, CA. The idea behind the event was to have all the homebrew clubs in New York City hold interclub competitions and the winners would compete against eachother in a best-of-show style judging. The judges were numerous craft beer bar owners and the craft beer legend Ray Daniels. The only requirements of the competition were that the beer had to use an American style yeast and could not be a lager due to tank space. The prize for winning was an all expense paid trip to Petaluma and the ability to brew your beer using the Lagunitas brewhouse. Once completed the beer would be shipped out exclusively for the New York City market. A slightly tweaked version of my Black IPA won top honors in both competitions and I flew out to Lagunitas last week to brew my beer.
I was accompanied on the trip with two of the judges chosen at random, Kirk Struble from 4 Ave. Pub in Brooklyn (among several others) and Carolyn Pinkus owner of the Stag’s Head in Brooklyn. The brew would be a collaboration between the three of us and the head brewer Jeremy Marshall would allow us pretty much free run of the place. Upon entering the tap room I noticed that the previous group from Chicago made a Black IPA as the “Fusion 8”. After a lengthy discussion, we decided not to do my recipe and do another black IPA but instead to go against the grain and make the lightest beer in Lagunitas history (12.2ºPlato or about 1.050 specific gravity) using roughly half Northwestern Pale malt, halt wheat malt, and five bags of flaked oats (which was maybe 5% of the grist?). The real fun part was when we dosed it with a bunch of experimental and not-yet-named “ghost” hops for bittering and dry hopping. One was the HBC-342 known as the “watermelon Jolly Rancher” hop in some circles and a variety so secret it didn’t even have a name or alpha acid percentage on the box. There were just big bold letters “EXPERIMENTAL”. We opened a bag and the first whiff was of the produce section in a grocery store followed by a distinct cotton candy smell. We also used Citra to dry hop which is exploding in popularity right now. After learning that these hops came from the Perrault Hop Farms, I jokingly coined the brew the “Perrault Assault” White IPA, even though we used the house English yeast that they use for their IPA instead of a Belgian strain typically being used in White IPAs. We’ll see if that name actually sticks when the beer gets to New York. The beer should arrive in the greater New York City area around July 30th and we’ll hopefully be throwing a release party at Brouwerij Lane if all goes well along with some of my homebrew on tap (!!!).
3/16/2012 Update: Morebeer.com is selling the HBC-342 experimental hops by the ounce so grab some while you can.
Here is a crapload of random pictures from the trip to Lagunitas Brewery: