COVID has been hard on all of us. While we may not have all experienced it in the same way, it’s left us all changed.
Some days it feels like it’s sucked all the fun out of things. We wonder what life will be like after this pandemic is over. We’re looking forward to “normal”, but to be honest we’re not entirely sure what “normal” is going to mean on the other side of all this.
Hey, remember when mixtapes were normal? OK, OK. I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s put a pin in that for a minute.
Who knew that a pandemic would leave us with too much free time on our hands? There’s lots of days where we all get to spend copious amounts of time alone with our thoughts. And while we’re both delightful company to ourselves, it just gets uncomfortable. So to keep us entertained, amused, and at least somewhat productive, we spend as much time as possible talking about beer. Some days we don’t do much else.
Stemming from those long, idea-filled sessions we’ve had some good ideas. You’ve probably tasted a few of them lately and we are going to keep the new stuff flowing. In particular, though, we wanted to make something that would be fun and bring some happiness into people’s lives – something for beer people to really look forward to. So what makes people happy?
Hops. Hops make people happy. That’s a scientific fact. OK, maybe it isn’t, but it ought to be.
Back to the mixtape thing. Remember how you felt when someone handed you a mixtape they made for you? Someone would take the time to piece together a set of stellar tracks that could always hold well enough on their own. The beauty of the mixtape was the sum of the individual pieces – a complex package of ideas, emotions, and feelings. It was a package meant to steer you toward a particular shared experience with your “mixer”.
Growing up in the 80’s, a mixtape was a supreme sign of affection. Nothing said ‘I love you’ like that collection of tunes could. Man, those were good feels. But, I digress…
So we got to thinking – one of our very favourite things to do is mix blends of hops in interesting ways in order to convey and highlight the different characteristics of each. How about beer that showcases blends of hops in different combinations? How about unique combinations meant to steer folks towards a particular shared experience? Hey! Why not a series of beers?
With all the nervous energy of an awkward teenager looking to woo his crush after school by the bleachers, we lit the keyboard on fire. First things first, we developed a simple base beer recipe using classic North American malt. Then we began playing with hop combinations. The goal with each combination was to choose hops that steer you towards a particular experience. Ideally the hop flavours would create a flavour that’s greater than that of the individual parts.
From a brewing perspective, this is a dream come true for us. We’re getting to use hops that we’ve never worked with before. We’re using hops that we’ve barely even heard about. Some of them will only be referred to by number. We’re throwing some deep cuts into these mixes.
Of course, we couldn’t just leave it at that. We went over the top again. Why stop at 10 when you can take it to 11? Why stop at West Coast IPA? What about the hazies? What about the bruts? Different styles of IPA will be better suited to different hops. Same idea, different malt and different hops. We’re going to mix it up with each new volume and see what comes out on the other side.
Have you got a favourite hop? It might be in one of these recipes. But probably not because we aren’t that cool.
We hope you like our little mixtape project, and that it makes you smile and think of us when you press play.