SweetWater Hash Session IPA Preview
SweetWater Hash Session IPA
If you listened to last week’s show you know we enjoy a good session beer, we even shared a list of some available from Georgia breweries and a few that are coming soon. One of the beers we mentioned as coming soon was SweetWater Hash Session IPA, a new Spring seasonal. Some of you may not know that I’m beervoyant (it’s a blessing and a curse) and right after that article was posted we received an invitation to visit SweetWater to sample this new brew. Spooky, isn’t it?
After arriving at 4:20 as requested we joined a few other folks including SweetWater’s Mark Medlin (Brewmaster) and Nick Nock (Head Brewer) to sample and chat about the beer. Most beer people know what hops are and have seen the cones or pellets typically used, but Hash Session uses hop hash in addition to traditional hops. SweetWater is one of only a couple of breweries using hop hash in their beers and they’ve previously given us Johnny Hash DIPA as part of the Dank Tank series, Hop Hash DIPA, and Hash Brown India Brown Ale. What the heck is hop hash, you ask? In short it’s the resinous gunk that gathers on filter screens when processing whole cone hops into pellets. This super-concentrated compound was once considered a waste product, until a crazy brewer thought it may have some potential. Due to its intensity it can easily overpower a beer, so it takes some tweaking to get the recipes just right. This particular variety of hop hash contains mostly Amarillo hops, known for their floral and tropical and citrus characteristics. Check out the video at the bottom of this article for more info on harvesting hop hash and its use in Hash Session IPA
“Tim… enough rambling about what it is, tell us how it tastes!” OK, OK… hold your horses, here’s what Aaron and I thought of the beer:
Tim’s Tasting Notes
I’ve said many times that I’m not an IPA fan, I’ve got to stop saying that as I’m finding more and more IPAs that I enjoy. Is it my tastes that are changing or the IPAs? Pretty sure it’s a bit of both. I still don’t enjoy most of the hardcore West Coast style IPAs with their over-the-top bitterness, it’s just too much for my tender palate.
SweetWater has always been generous with the hops when brewing their beers, so I was hopeful this would not just mutilate my palate. When I received my pour of the beer I took a deep sniff, held it up to gaze upon its golden glory, then finally took a sip. Both the aroma and flavor seem in great balance, my palate is safe from destruction for today. The word “dank” seems to get thrown around a lot these days but this one definitely fits the bill. Hash Session is dank and citrusy, with lots of grapefruit. It’s got a nice spiciness to it and hints of pineapple and pear. This is a very tasty IPA, session or not.
SweetWater really did a great job of bringing the character of a bigger beer to this lower ABV IPA. I think this will be very popular with hop heads, especially fans of the dank.
Aaron’s Tasting Notes
It’s no secret I am a hop head. And I come from a family of hop heads. My dad, my uncles…all of us enjoy a great IPA. And we all get together every summer at our family lake camp. Much craft beer is drunk, since we’re all coming from a different part of the country.
I’ve been looking for a session IPA that can hold up to the big boys for a while. After all, if you’re spending all day with the family (and my kids), you don’t want to look up and realize you’ve knocked back 6-7 high ABV beers. Because you’ll be looking up at the sky. Which is never good, especially with the family.
On the other hand, you don’t want a session that’s so low in ABV, it’s like drinking hop tea. Whether it’s because of the hash or whatever, this one really nails it. Lots of hops flavor, as Tim said it on his review – I get a lot of citrus, and for me, really that classic Amarillo hop flavor.
I’m a big fan of this one, and I expect this to be in heavy rotation once this comes out. If you’re an IPA fan, I don’t think you can find a better one that’s under 4.5 ABV (this one is 4.2).
SweetWater Hash Session IPA
ABV | 4.2%
IBU | 55
Malts | Maris Otter, Pilsner, Wheat, Midnight Wheat
Hops | Amarillo Hash, Bravo, Ahtanum, Crystal, El Dorado
Availability | 12 oz. bottles and draft coming February 8, 2016. Cans will be available in the spring Tackle Box.
What Else is Going on at SweetWater?
In addition to brewing lots of Hash Session IPA, Sweetwater is also getting ready for their 19th Anniversary party on Feb. 21st where they’ll premier their 19th Anniversary beer, a Belgian-style Golden Ale with Brett aged in Cabernet and Merlot barrels. This is the beer that was supposed to be the 18th Anniversary beer but they didn’t feel it was ready, so it got an extra year to work its magic. The brewery continues to expand where they’ve recently added four (4) new 1330 barrel tanks, that’s a whopping 41,230 gallons. A new 5-barrel pilot brewing system just arrived and will be installed soon. They are also building out an additional 30,000 sq. ft. space that will be used for can and bottle conditioning, barrel aging, and an event space.
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