Halleluiah! Hopaluia has been brought to the masses. With hoppy inspiration, Spilker Ales works passionately to brew “The Gospel of Hops” for you. Spend time getting to know what sets Hopaluia apart and you’ll understand why Hopaluia is truly “The Gospel of Hops” and so much more.
Spilker Ales was founded Dec., 1994, by owner Sam Spilker and produced its first batch of beer in July, 1996. The brewery was conceived while Sam was enjoying a good beer the summer after graduating from Colorado State University in 1993. The idea hit him like a huge thud. Sam was very disturbed he had not thought of opening a brewery sooner, and rued the day he didn’t have a brewery in operation by his 21st birthday. Perhaps Sam’s college years were not in total vain as a degree in Biochemistry would come in handy.
The air at Spilker Ales is one of dedication, creativity, and obsession. We’re huge fans of many beers, but to strive for greatness we decided to focus on one beer for many years: Hopaluia. When you focus on one style of beer you think about details that would otherwise go unnoticed – and that makes all the difference in the world. We do perhaps go a little overboard sometimes. “Is it really necessary to know how to pour a stratus cloud of foam on the top of Hopaluia versus a cumulus?” Maybe not? But it’s this kind of thinking that led to the birth of Hopaluia in the first place.
Hopaluia was born sometime in 1997. In an experiment 15 kegs of beer were dry hopped with different varieties and combinations of hops in very large quantities and one of those kegs was a revelation. It had an incredible aroma and a flavor of intense hops balanced with a tasty maltiness with indescribable fragrances of fruity esters hiding in the background. That keg didn’t last very long, because drinking it just wanted to make you say “Halleluia!” After a few more experiments and tweaking “The Gospel of Hops” was born!
The “Gospel of Hops” is the fusion of many different practices that evolved at Spilker Ales. Sam has always been inspired by the ways of English, German and Belgian brewers who strayed from the norm. We’ve borrowed a few unusual practices from just about every major brewing culture, and come up with several of our own.
Our Dry Hopping process
Where things start to get real hoppy! Some of our quirky methods in this realm fall under the general category of “truly bizarre trade secrets.” This isn’t your ordinary dry hopping. We add about 45 pounds of Centennial, and Experimental varieties into our secondary fermentation tank. The hops interact with the many malty and estery flavors and begin dissolving incredible hop aroma into the beer. Dry hopping puts hops right into the near-finished beer, where the aroma is trapped and can’t escape like it would in open fermentation or the brewkettle. The aroma and taste stays in the beer until it reaches your nose and taste buds. Halleluia! Hopaluia has so much hoppy goodness from the finished hops that a bottle laid on its side for a month will have the effect of turning the underside of the bottle cap slightly green. Strange but true! Dry hopping has actually become pretty common in the past 10 years, but very few master the art of Hop Bio-compounds. Our dry hopping isn’t just about throwing hops in the finished beer like most breweries do, we actually ferment with the hops and change the hops. Our yeast strains and fermentation conditions are carefully chosen so the yeast can actually make new hop aromatic compounds that are not found in the original hops. We’re constantly working to improve this unique process and love the unique flavors it creates.
A lot of breweries shy away from dry hopping because its very expensive, and the dry hop flavor doesn’t last long if beer is abused. Which is why Hopluia should always be cold stored, no exceptions!
For the ultimate experience always drink Hopaluia on tap. It’s the only way to get the full effect of dry hop aroma and flavor. Bottles are great, but you should to drink Hopaluia on tap for the most ethereal taste!
The Quest to be Hopaluia….. we constantly contemplate changes and adaptations to our process to make Hopaluia the best that it can be. If we can brew something better than Hopaluia, it will become the new bearer of the Gospel and the old will be gone. We run continuous experiments on virtually every brewing process, yeast strain and hop variety in existence. Even with so much experimentation, there have not been any permanent tweaks of substance between 1997 and 2013 as it has always been so hard to improve over the original, so the original remains.
Really, its all about the hops and our funky fermentation process, so sometimes we didn’t talk about the amazing equipment that Hopaluia was developed on in Cortland. Even if you had been on 20, 50, or even a 100 brewery tours, its likely you had never see anything close to Spilker Ales. Some breweries boast of a few pieces of re-purposed equipment, but in Cortland things got a bit extreme. Quite a few breweries started small with a lot of used equipment meant for milk or cheese. We did too. Then most of those breweries got some great investors and got some nice equipment. Somehow that never happened here. When growth happened the “Frankenstein” equipment just got super sized instead. There used to be 30 major pieces of brewing equipment at Spilker Ales. Only three were originally designed for beer. Three came from wineries, 11 from dairies, 2 from creameries, 3 from other farms, 2 contrived contraptions, 3 designed for small scale home brewers, and 5 others that came from various scrap yards or the surplus center. As it turned out, a lot of the equipment was better designed to get the awesome hop flavor in Hopaluia and that’s why we stuck with our unique equipment through many years.
2017 brought big changes to Spilker Ales. We closed down our brewery in Cortland and moved production of Hopaluia to Axtell, Nebraska. That’s where Hopaluia is being brewed in partnership with Thunderhead brewing. Although the original “Frankenbrewery” of Cortland is now gone, Hopaluia lives on.
We hope you continue to enjoy Hopaluia as much as we do! Cheers! Sam.