There Are Four Main Ingredients In Beer, And Only One Of Them Is Hops.

Still not enough hops! Let's talk IPA's. My friends are giving me shit on my personal Facebook page about the little blurb in the Red Eye about Panic Alarmist Brewing today which says, "There will be no IPA". I had some coworkers also comment on it this morning as well. Well, that is correct, no IPAs for Panic (now named Alarmist Brewing). Allow me to explain.

As I mentioned in a previous post , I love almost every beer style. Seriously. I LOVE them. Even the ones I don't like I love, if that makes sense. Which it doesn't. I've brewed many styles of beer including Czech pilsners, Belgian tripels, English bitters, English mild, English barley wine, Berliner weisse, German hefeweizen, American stout, American brown ale, mead, German kolsch, German maibock, Belgian golden strong ale, Orval type clone, Scottish ale, the list goes on. I've also brewed lots of beers that don't fit into any style, beers that are my own recipes, including the ones I'm working on for Panic (now named Alarmist Brewing).

I've also brewed many IPA's and imperial IPA's. One of my favorite beers on Earth is Russian River's "Pliny the Elder". I love many IPA's. I dislike most. The ones I love most have a few things in common: very dry, very little carmel malt in the grist, blond in color due to lack of carmel malt, and assertive/unique hops in the flavor and aroma such as Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra. That's not to say I HAVE to have those hops in my IPA to enjoy it, but if I have to choose, I'll take those hops over cascade or centennial every time.

Now there are three reasons why Panic Alarmist Brewing is not going to brew an IPA, at least not initially.

  1. There are too many on the market and the market is getting increasingly crowded.
  2. I think there are far more interesting beers that haven't been made yet.
  3. Unless you have already signed hop contracts, you can NOT get Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, Australian Galaxy, and some other highly desired IPA hops for 1 to 2 years, maybe more. Citra is not available until the 2014 brewing year, and that's if you sign a contract today! By the time Panic (now named Alarmist Brewing) is ready to brew, who knows what hops will be available? Oh, and of course these highly sought after hops are very, very expensive. Then there's the fact that even if you do have a contract, if the hop harvest comes up short, you still won't get those hops and you'll have to use substitutes and those particular hops just can't be substituted IMHO.

I have a whole post coming up on the current hop market and what I learned from Hopunion last week. It isn't pretty and it's going to directly affect one of my flagship beers (which isn't an IPA ;-) ).

The final thing I'll say about this is that if you consider yourself a "hop head" or you only like highly hopped, bitter beers, do yourself a huge "flavor favor" and explore. The American craft beer movement isn't about any particular type of beer. It's about choice over those shitty yellow watery beverages with bikini girl commercials. Remember that yeast and malt contribute to beer flavor as well. In many styles, their flavors and aromas are easily as powerful and visceral as those that hops contribute, just in a very different way. Go try a Jolly Pumpkin "Bam Biere" if you want to know how delicious yeast derived flavors and aromas can be. Grab yourself a New Glarus "Uff-da" Bock if you want to enjoy the supreme complexities of a malt centric beer. There's room for all of these flavors and aromas on their own and combined together in glorious ways. Rejoice in the choice!

Oh, and if anyone on the West coast wants to ship me some "Pliny the Elder", well, I won't complain.