Anniversary Ale 8
Bob Ross taught us that we don’t make mistakes, we make happy accidents. Those are certainly words to live by, particularly in the brewing world.
For example, if we hadn’t mucked up a batch of Cranberry Wheat back in the day, we wouldn’t have The Bog. That, certainly, is a happy accident.
However, that happy accident happened over six years ago. Six years later, with eight years of brewing under our collective belt, mistakes are fewer and farther between. When they happen — and they do — they’re much smaller mistakes than over-cranberrying a Cranberry Wheat.
It’s ironic that something as simple as an added word in a description could affect the entire recipe of a beer.
Even more ironic that it’s what happened to the brew meant to celebrate eight years of killer beers, Anniversary Ale 8.
You may think that it’s beer first, description second, but that’s not the case. It’s not as if we have the luxury to brew up a beer, wait two weeks for it to finish fermenting, taste it, and adopt a high-falutin’ British accent while saying, “My, my, I taste lemons and limes and hints of stone fruits,” while adjusting our monocle and twisting up our handlebar mustache.
(Okay. Justin Vitti does that.)
Instead, our illustrious Innovation Director Brian Hink writes all of our descriptions, usually while working out the recipes for our beers. But, as they say, there’s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip. Or, in this case, betwixt the pen and the can.
“When writing the description I messed up and said ‘Dry-hopped at 8 pounds-per-barrel’, whereas it should’ve been ‘Hopped at 8 pounds-per-barrel,’” he explained.
Had it been a smaller, uncanned release, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal. The descriptions for something like Great Wit Shark or Always Bretty only really live online, so we could have simply fixed the description. Anniversary Ale 8, being a much larger release, has the description printed on a label for the can… that went to the printer two months ago.
And if it were a canned Tasting Room only-release like Tan Limes, it would have been easier to handle this massive dry-hop on a much smaller scale. We could use our usual dry-hop method of using a secondary tank to make a “hop slurry” and injecting it, in-line, to the fermenter. However, with the gargantuan amount that we were brewing for Anniversary Ale 8, it was going to push that system beyond capacity.
“We very quickly realized the dire ramifications of my mistake and instantly clogged up the system,” Brian tells us, “and the guys on the floor were over their heads on it.”
It took Brian and Quality Assurance Manager James Fox two hours to fix it, but then the second round of dry-hopping took some further re-engineering, which, once again, took them a few hours to figure out.
“A few of the cellarmen had smirks on their faces and some good-natured though snide comments seeing us troubleshoot the issues,” Brian says, “but in the end we got it to work. I only had to say ‘this is not my fault’ a few dozen times as the guys on the floor cursed out the guy who made the recipe.”
The guy who made the recipe was Brian. It was Brian’s fault. Their ire was well-placed.
“It wasn’t my fault!” he protests, wethinks too much. “It’s the lure of more hops that did it, because who doesn’t love more hops? So yeah, dry-hopping this beer really sucked a lot, and the cellarmen were none too happy with me.”
Ultimately, their quick thinking and ingenuity saved this beer, making it even better than Brian had intended.
“It’s a lot of hops,” Brian says. “Like… a lot.”
Follow the Gull and Bounding Main are our hoppiest recurring beers, both clocking in at 5 ½ pounds-per-barrel. Coastal Evacuation and Always Ready are our hoppiest core brands at 3.7 and 3.6 pounds-per-barrel, respectively.
“Anniversary Ale 8 has a fucking monster of a hop load to it,” Brian says, “coming in at 9.2 pounds-per-barrel!”
That’s, like, soooo many hops. Soooo many. Over nine pounds-per-barrel of Nelson Sauvin, Cashmere, Citra, and Simcoe blast you in the face with a tidal wave of fruity tropical aromas, dripping with notes of lemony-limey-citrusy goodness and tropical hints of coconut and stone fruits.
There’s no actual coconut in the beer — those of you with allergies should have no issue. Cashmere, a variety of hops that we’ve been using a lot more this year, lets off a gentle, underlying earthy coconut note.
“It’s subtle and definitely a background note,” Brian says, “with the fruity notes playing more of the starring role here.”
Otherwise, this hops profile is all about the fruit flavors. Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Simcoe all combine to bring some beautiful citrus and stone fruit notes.
“Lots of fruity hops going on,” Brian says, “which pairs beautifully off the yeast profile.”
We used the Hornindal Kveik in Anniversary Ale 8 that we used for Beer Name: Eminently Drinkable last year. Hornindal produces a tropical flavor and complex aroma that can present itself as stone fruits and pineapple. However, having only used it once — and in a relatively small release –, we’re still feeling out this yeast.
“We’re still learning quite a bit about the Hornindal Kveik and how it acts and how it complements the hops that we use,” says Lab Manager Lauren Appleman.
How does it handle being harvested and re-pitched? Does it flocculate well enough to get subsequent brews off it? How do the viability and vitality hold up over continued usage? These questions — and many others — will be answered in the next episode of Soap!
Actually, Anniversary Ale 8 was the perfect brew to trial it.
“I really enjoy what this yeast brings to the table,” Brian says, “but these other things I was very curious to see, so this was the perfect trial to use it on.”
We had six brews of Anniversary Ale 8 to get through, so it was enough for us to get some benchmarks on the Hornindal Kveik, but not so much as something like Follow the Gull or City to Shore or White Caps, so it wouldn’t have been as detrimental if the yeast didn’t quite perform as planned.
“There was a multitude of reasons to use Horindal Kviek for this,” Brian says, “but the biggest one is because of how awesome and unique it is.”
“I think the yeast is way more expressive than our house yeast,” Lauren says. “It has more of a candied fruit aroma that works really well with the fruitier hops.”
The hops and yeast are layered over a malt profile that’s intended to get out of the way. With pilsner, oats, and wheat in the bill, you’ll find a nice, pillowy backdrop. Add a touch of honey malt for a touch of sweetness and a hint of color, and we’ve got a beer befitting our eighth anniversary.
Bob Ross would agree. Happy accidents make good beer.
Anniversary Ale 8 will release at our Anniversary Party, this year on Friday, June 28th, 11am on draft and in 16-ounce cans from the Brewtique. Don’t miss out.