Winter I am so NOT into you. Winter beers however, I am SO into you, or you are into me, or whatever. Imperial this, Double that, is the perfect recipe for curing those long chilly nights. Higher ABVs in the Imperial Stouts and ramped up hops in Double Red IPAs help to warm you up and guarantee lots of flavors keep things interesting.
This poses a challenge for Craft brewers. How do you follow up a season of beers that are full of flavor and challenge your palate at every sip? Spring is traditionally the weakest season for brewers. Some brewers just drop the seasonal offering until summer. Big flavors of winter need to transition to the easy drinking flavors needed for summer and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery out of Delaware found the perfect transition. Dogfish Head Aprihop even turned into their strongest seasonal offering of the year.
Aprihop is an IPA brewed in the traditional “continuously hopping” way that Dogfish is famous for in their 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA. Long ago, Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, saw a cooking program where the chef continuously added spices to a dish throughout the cooking process. The chef said he did this so that the flavors from the spices create more complexity the longer they are absorbed into the dish. Sam thought about how brewers use hops in the traditional 3 stages in the brew kettle boil. First addition of hops is for bittering, the second near the end of the boil for more complex hop flavors and at the very end of the boiling process for aromas. He decided to forget tradition and try a continual hopping of his beers for a 90 minute boil the same way the chef did for the dish. He even created a special device to shake the hops into the brew kettle over time. Thus the 90 Minute IPA was born. Later, for the more developing hop palate, he created the 60 Minute IPA which is essentially a lighter version of the 90 Minute. Dogfish says this continual hopping in 60 and 90 Minute IPAs creates strong hop flavors without it being crushingly bitter.
Dogfish wanted to assist in adjusting our palate back through spring and into summer with another continually hopped IPA. With so many great year round IPAs out there, what does Dogfish do? They add a little off-centered twist. They take an IPA base and add Apricot Juice. This adds some sweetness to the beer. To layer more flavors on that, they add Amarillo Hops as a late addition which imparts flowery, spicy and orange citrus flavors. The result is a remarkable springtime IPA which is both fruity and hoppy and a surefire way to keep your tastebuds challenged and ready for the transition into light refreshing summer beers.
-John Gestautas, Keg Keeper
Master Brewers Association of America Beer Steward