“The Gospel of Hops” puts incredible hop flavor and aroma into a one-of-a-kind beer. Acquiring the awe-inspiring hoppiness of Hopaluia is no simple task, but an undertaking that other breweries simply don’t take on. Which is why we’d love to lay out our unique process out for you to see. The following is the recipe to the “Gospel.”
The caramel malt portion of our grain bill consists of only drum-roasted caramel malts. They cost more than their kindred kilned caramel malts, but we think they give off a more pronounced, deeper flavor. Our malt is milled on Great Uncle Ben Spilker’s roller mill, circa 1920, so we can keep a few Spilker spirits tapping their toes.
With an overnight mash, near boiling sparge water and a fill-empty-fill sparge, we took every blasphemous method deemed unjust in the brewing industry and made it our own. It simply tastes better in Hopaluia. We hand stir in the mash, because beer always tastes better with a trace of perspiration!
Boiling of the Wort
Our direct-fire brewkettle throws 600-1000 degree heat. The super hot air creates a caramelization in the wort changing the malt flavor of the beer to something entirely different and delicious. Most kettles only have 250-300 degree steam coming into contact with the heating surface. Steam may be better for other styles of beers, but not for Hopaluia!
We use a cantankerous yeast strain in our primary fermentation that no one else seems to want; #1214. It’s a tempermental sort, and causes a host of problems if you don’t treat it right. We employ a second yeast in the secondary fermentation to correct all the problems this high matinence gal leaves behind. But it produces wonderful esters with aroma and tastes of apples, pears, plums, cloves, and raisins to name a few. This yeast works best in open, shallow fermentation tanks, which have fallen by the wayside in most breweries in favor of closed vertical conical tanks. Fortunately, this yeast also ferments very clean alcohol and leaves out the “headache esters”. This assures that you won’t get hangovers from moderate amounts of Hopaluia.
Now we go to the trouble of adding our second yeast strain; #2112. It naturally carbonates our beer and gives Hopaluia a fine head with lots of bubbles. It also rounds out and adds different flavors that our first yeast strain doesn’t provide. The second fermentation takes place in our finishing tanks, which used to actually be old Champagne tanks. With their 3/8″ thick shell they hold pressure that would blow up most brewery tanks. The high pressure allows the beer to carbonate at warmer temperatures, perfect for our secondary yeast.
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 80 pounds of Northern Brewer, 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 innovation, 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. The original Hopaluia was almost jettisoned in 2004 when a new experimental hop variety appeared and made a wonderful beer. A very close call was had…..the two extremely different beers dueled to a bloody draw over many months of testing held at the brewery. Testing a worthy challenger is always quite gratifying. The original Hopaluia remained as a result of the tie, and the challenger laid weeping in a dusty old pile of recipes…..until now! With Sonar, we bring you an amazing variety of hops to the forefront and we all will enjoy the fruits of many hoppy experiments over the years. Our latest offering Technique Double pale ale adds even more hopping methods for a one of a kind experience.
The equipment and brewery–really, here its all about the hops, so sometimes we don’t really talk about the amazing equipment. Maybe you’ve been on 20, 50, or even a 100 brewery tours, but you will never see anything close to Spilker Ales. Some breweries boast of a few pieces of re-purposed equipment, but here things get 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 are 30 major pieces of brewing equipment here. 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 homebrewers, and 5 others that came from various scrap yards or the surplus center. As it turned out, a lot of this equipment is better designed to get the awesome hop flavor in Hopaluia and that’s why we’ve stuck with it all. We hope you can make the tour and witness how the Gospel is made!!