As a homebrewer, I am always fascinated by new techniques for coaxing flavor and aroma out of hops. Depending on exactly what the brewer is looking to gain from the hop addition, he or she may use different types of hops at different stages of the brewing process. Each hop varietal imparts different levels of bitterness, flavor, and aroma, so it is important to know the key characteristics of each hop before adding it the beer.
But not only do hops behave differently depending on the type, hops of the exact same type can behave differently depending on where it was grown, and particularly when it is added to the beer. Hops added early in the boil add bitterness but very little flavor, while hops added late in the boil bring flavor and aroma and very little bitterness.
Most brewers looking to get the fruit forward and low bitterness qualities of a New England IPA add a substantial amount of hops after the boil and even more in one (or two) dry hop additions during fermentation. This dry hopping produces tons of aroma and contributes to the style’s signature haze.
Freshness is also a key component in hop flavor – not only the freshness of the beer, but also the freshness of the hops used when brewing. Homebrewers and even some commercial brewers are constantly battling the effects of oxidation in aging hops and searching for the freshest hop possible.
That was a huge reason Odell’s newest year round offering Rupture caught my eye. Odell is using a custom built grinding machine inside the brewery to grind the hops for the beer which they say “rupture(s) the lupulin inside – releasing the oils that give the beer its flavor.”
They are calling the beer a Fresh Grind Ale, and maybe most impressively are only using hops ground the same day they brew each batch. Odell’s beers are always worth trying, and incorporating this new focus and rolling the beer out as a year round offering, immediately required me to pick up a six pack.
Orange, grapefruit, dank, tropical, floral, and pine notes were all present at one point or another.”
Pouring from the can revealed a mostly transparent golden beer that is maybe more golden yellow than golden orange. Big bubbles formed a two finger head that immediately faded to nothing except a small ring around the edge of the glass. It was a fairly still beer, with very little activity in my drinking vessel.
It was almost hard to focus on the appearance because the aroma was overwhelming on the pour. It smelled strongly of citrus fruit, orange in particular. There were some dank qualities to the aroma as well, and more than a hint of tropical fruit. Odell says they built the grinding machine to help unlock “unparalleled” aroma and then tailored the recipe to match. I’m not sure it is unparalleled, but the aroma was amazing and I can certainly see why a brewery would want to make a beer taste like this one smells.
Rupture’s taste mostly delivered on the memorable aroma. The flavors stacked one after another without any one note dominating. Orange, grapefruit, dank, tropical, floral, and pine notes were all present at one point or another. They wove in and out with each sip a little bit different than the last. Maybe it could use a little more brightness, but I’m nitpicking, this beer was delicious and to incorporate all the flavor that it did at only 37 IBUs is amazing.
The beer was extremely light and maybe too much so. Those 37 IBUs bring a soft bitterness that helps clean up the back of the beer – etting you dive in for more. I do think just a little more body would benefit this beer even at its 6.0% alcohol by volume. I’d really be interested in a ramped up double IPA version.
It is refreshing to have breweries of Odell’s quality and reputation willing to experiment. Rupture required new equipment and reallocated space, but Odell decided the end product was worth the extra trouble.
I happen to agree. Rupture is not a hazy juice bomb but it is still, due to its low bitterness and fruit, it is a delicious beer that absolutely has a place in a year round rotation as impressive as Odell’s.