Swinging the Lamp
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you’re going to want a beer that will stand up to the barrage of sweet and savory deliciousness that will fill your plate next week. From turkey to green bean casserole to cranberry sauce and stuffing, you’ll want a beer that will play off of all of those flavors well.
And, odds are that, once you’ve gathered around the Thanksgiving table, you may hear one or two stories being told, all with varying degrees of believability. You’ll need a beer to get you through all of that, as well.
With Swinging the Lamp, we may have overshot our mark.
Our newest double New England IPA, Swinging the Lamp is filled with strong notes of juicy pineapple and stonefruits, backed up by a gentle hint of cedar and coconuts from our Hornindal Kveik yeast.
And with a seafaring name that refers to telling unbelievable stories — the theory is that the more the lamps slung from the deckhead begin to swing, the more the storyteller is exaggerating — you can call your family out when they start… you know… swinging the lamp.
“It’s a fantastic yeast that has an the intensely tropical flavor profile which pairs perfectly with new school hops,” says Innovation Director Brian Hink.
A Norweigian farmhouse strain, Kveik is a wildly different yeast, biologically speaking, and we wanted to see how it would hold up over a few brews.
“Kveik can stay dormant for a long time, but start fermentation almost immediately when pitched,” explains Lab Manager Lauren Appleman. “It also prefers higher fermentation temperatures and can tolerate high alcohol contents.”
We’re still figuring out all of the quirks with Kveik. This summer’s Anniversary Ale 8 was the first time we used it on a medium-scale limited release, so we wanted to bring it back for another release on the same scale to see how it stood up.
“Can it be domesticated and still produce its wildly unique flavors? Can it be harvested and repitched reliably? How much and how quickly will we see flavor drifts?” Brian wondered, “but this wasn’t something we could justify trying on a larger limited release like a White Caps or City to Shore.”
Since we’re not planning to brew too much of Swinging the Lamp, we could take a risk on it. We could blend them for consistency if the flavor changed too dramatically from generation to generation, or if we didn’t get any viable yeast for a subsequent batch, we could just order in a few additional pitches.
“So Swinging the Lamp was a sizeable enough release to get some good data off it, but not so large of a release that we’d be risking derailing the entire release if it didn’t perform as anticipated,” Brian says.
Brian likes risk. That’s his whole job as Innovation Director. The rest of production, on the other hand, likes consistency.
“Lauren and Matt in the lab and James running the show for production don’t like unpredictability: they like the known element that our house London Ale III brings,” he says, “but it’s my job to make sure we’re taking risks and trying new ways of doing things.”
And, while he’s not exactly taking risks with the hop bill of Moutere, Rakau, and Motueka, they’re definitely in the realm of new… and not only because they’re all New Zealand hops.
“I fell in love with Moutere and Rakau at the Craft Brewers Conference this year,” Brian says, “and I’ve always been a huge fan of Motueka, so playing with them together made a lot of sense.”
We didn’t play around when it came to these hops: we’re looking at 4.4 pounds-per-barrel on Swinging the Lamp — not the hoppiest of the hoppiest, but a respectable level of hops.
“That puts it a little above White Caps or City to Shore or Coastal Evacuation,” Brian explains, “but a touch below Captain May or Anniversary Ale 8 and some of the backdoor releases, so it’s in the middle of the pack as far as our big hop bombs go. Right around where Follow the Gull and Bounding Main are on the dry-hop pounds-per-barrel.”
A grain bill of pilsner, Golden Promise, wheat, and oats lends an exquisitely soft mouthfeel to Swinging the Lamp. Golden Promise, a malt we use rather infrequently, helps to differentiate the malt profile a bit from our other NEIPAs.
“Golden Promise is an English base malt that has a little more character than our usual German Pilsner malt,” Brian explains. “Since it’s bagged malt and not out of our silo, it’s a base malt that I try to use more sparingly: it’s not a malt we’d be adding to something we brew with more regularity.”
All of this comes together to create a double New England IPA that’s tremendously juicy, exquisitely soft, and unbearably exotic. With a gentle background hint of cedar and strong notes of juicy pineapple and stonefruits, Swinging the Lamp is a bold and unique offering in the sea of IPAs.
“It’s definitely a unique DNEIPA in the sea of them out there these days,” Brian says, “so I’ll be enjoying it side by side with White Caps to compare and contrast them.”
And Lauren — who admits to being “a little burnt out” on hoppy beers lately — is looking forward to Swinging the Lamp calling her back to her hoppy roots.
“The aroma is tropical and a little grassy, and it tastes pretty fruity as well with the Kveik pitching in, too,” she says. “This does not drink like it is anywhere close to 8% ABV, though. I would easily mistake this for a hoppy session beer like an Always Ready.”
So, perfect for Thanksgiving dinner with the family.
Be sure to pick some up! It’s available now throughout New Jersey, releases Friday in our Tasting Room, and will be available in the Philly area on Monday — just in time for the holiday.
Don’t miss it!