A Brew with L’Attitude
An Experimental IPA.
It sounds like our brewers have been squirreled in some dank basement somewhere, beards imbued with electrical currents, swirling beakers of colored liquids while cackling with glee.
And while that may be true — we really can’t account for their whereabouts on the weekends — we’re not going overboard with this brew. It’s still malt, hops, yeast, and water.
It’s our second collaboration with the good folks over at DC Brau — L’Attitude.
“The approach to the recipe formulation was definitely experimental,” says Production Manager Brian Hink. “It’s part New England IPA, part Belgian IPA, part Saison. It’s really unique.”
But experimentation is half the fun of being a brewer.
“No trial batches were done, this really is an experiment for us!” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm. “It’s all about trying new things, experimenting. That’s why 9 out of 10 brewers got into this in the first place, we’re really driven by asking, ‘I wonder what would happen if I…?’”
We’ve used two experimental hop varieties with this brew — so new, they don’t even have names.
“Only numbers, like James Bond,” Jimmy says.
From Hopsteiner, we’ve got “09326” — which looks more like a ZIP code than a variety of hops — and we’ve got HBC342 from Yakima Chief-Hopunion — which sounds more like the model number of some futuristic robot.
“Both of these varieties have some unique fruity aromas that really match this beer perfectly,” Jimmy says.
While Brian, Jimmy, and Ryan were in Yakima for hops selection, they had the opportunity to inspect these hops up close and personal, so they had a strong idea how these hops would work in a brew. Furthermore, the suppliers give great descriptions of the hops, so we were able to find ones that would fit the bill.
“One of the big advantages of brewing with experimental hops is you’re getting in on the ground floor,” Brian says. “You might be a few years ahead of the pack and find the next Galaxy or Citra before everyone else catches on. It’s a nice way to explore a new market inefficiency.”
Hops follow the same basic economic trend as any overhyped new product. Remember when Cabbage Patch Kids came out? (No? Are we really that old?) How about Tickle Me Elmo? Fidget spinners? ZhuZhu Pets? Fingerlings? They were all ridiculously overpriced when they first came out, then stabilized in price once they became more readily available. Same deal for hops.
“Playing around with experimental hops gives you the chance to try new hops before they’re released as a full-on brand,” Brian says. “Both of these experimentals were really nice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them branded and released as a full-on offering at some point because they both brought a lot to the table.”
The yeast is also a new strain for us. From BSI, S-26 serves up complex esters balanced with earthy and spicy notes. Slightly tart and dry with a peppery finish, it’s usually used in farmhouse ales and saisons.
“The yeast strain came highly recommended by DC Brau,” Brian says, “with its nice fruity notes perfectly complimenting the hop profile.”
“They thought it would make great use in this beer,” Jimmy says. “This yeast gives off a little more ester — that’s the fruity and flowery flavors from yeast — and not quite as many phenols — that’s the peppery and spicy flavors from mostly Belgian and Hefeweizen yeast strains –, so it fits right alongside the hop profile we used in this beer.”
Both of them seem pleased with this new yeast.
“I really like the profile it brought,” Brian says, “fruity, a touch of phenolics, a nice mouthfeel: it’s expressive but not overly so. There’s this nice bubblegum character that comes through, which paired beautifully off the berry and melon undertones of the two experimental hops.”
Brewer Eddie Siciliano got many of the same flavors as Brian off the brew.
“I like the floral aspects of the experimental hops paired with the bubblegum-like esters from the yeast strain we used,” he says. “I get a lot of Bazooka bubblegum on the nose. It’s a very complex and interesting beer.”
The grain bill — a deceptively complex blend of Pilsner, Rye, Wheat, Oats, and Honey malt — falls somewhere between a Saison and a New England IPA.
“It leaves a fluffier mouthfeel than you’d expect for a beer finishing as dry as this one,” Brian says. “Knowing that it would finish on the dryer side, we employed our full-on NEIPA water profile to really soften the edges and help round things out and brighten things up.”
Ultimately, it all comes together in a beer with some serious attitude — which made naming this one a no-brainer. If you look at a map of the country, put your finger on Cape May and then drag it due west, the first major city you hit is Washington, DC. It’s easy to forget how far south we are here in the farthest reaches of South Jersey — everyone lumps us in with Philadelphia — but the two towns are actually on the same line of latitude.
Nonetheless, according to Brian, “Everything jived nicely.” Not only did the recipe come together beautifully, but working with our friends at DC Brau was synergistic and intuitive.
“The crew at DC Brau is amazing,” Jimmy says. “I really can’t say enough good things about them. They’re excited and passionate about what they do, and they have a great time doing it, too — all while being consummate professionals who make fantastic beers. It was easy to work with them because we were all really on the same page when it came to these beers, and we trusted each other and each brought a lot to the table. It’s been a true collaboration.”
And the two resulting brews are simply outstanding. We told you all about Rosé du Gose, but L’Attitude is the one our fans in South Jersey will be reaching for all summer long.
“The hops give a lot of notes of tropical fruits, berries, and a hint of grass that goes great with the melon and peach qualities that the yeast gave us, along with a dash of spring flowers and a touch of spice from the yeast,” Jimmy says. “It comes together in a unique IPA that is sure to kick off your summer with a little attitude.”
Brewer Andrew Ewing has been enjoying L’Attitude, as well.
“I like L’Attitude because it’s a balance of opposites,” he says. “It plays a little trick on your palate. It has the nose of a delicious table Saison yet finishes with a resinous hops explosion in your mouth. I’m going to be enjoying this beer while fishing stripers all summer long.”
And have you seen this 16-ounce can? This is one sexy can. It’s a step outside our usual design, while the design for Rosé du Gose was completely in keeping with our branding — we wanted to get our design in the hands of DC Brau fans and they wanted to get their design in our fans’ hands.
“The concept behind the label was to focus on latitudinal lines,” says designer Michael Van Hall, but I also wanted to bifurcate the design to really play up the fact that it is a collaboration. Because of the timing of the release and the general beachy-ness of Cape May, I made the latitude lines into waves so we get a bit of a summertime vibe.”
Either way, we’re loving this can design.
And, now that the experiment is over, we get to take a step back and assess how things went.
“Overall, I think it’s a successful experiment!” Brian says, but we’ll let you be the judge.
L’Attitude is available now at the Tasting Room, in 16-ounce cans and on tap, and will be distributed throughout our New Jersey distribution area — sorry, PA, but you’re going to have to take a drive to get this one.
Might as well make it a drive down to the brewery! See you soon!