Inside Look: Our secret Slow Ride dry-hopping process

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Inside Look: Our secret Slow Ride dry-hopping process

Long before Slow Ride Session IPA (aka Session IPA in Texas*) landed on shelves, it began as a concept. Not a “hey, let’s brew any old session IPA” concept, but more of a “hey, let’s brew the most exotic, tropical session IPA we’ve ever tasted.”

When the brewers here at New Belgium formulate a beer recipe, the process often begins with a flavor map. That is, brewers sit down to discuss desirable flavors and aromas they’d like to spotlight in the finished product (like, how a chef forecasts which flavor combinations would be ideal for a new dish). The brewers mapped out the specific notes they wanted to see in Slow Ride—with a heavy nod to the tropics—and then selected hops best suited to create that profile: Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic, Amarillo and Citra, to name a few. Pretty badass hops known for citrusy, tropical flavors and aromas. But, for Slow Ride, a slightly tropical session IPA just wouldn’t do. The mission was to create a quaffable IPA bursting at the seams with exotic character. So, our team devised a new dry-hopping technique. Naturally.

For our hoppier offerings like Ranger, the standard practice is to dry-hop after the fermentation process is finished, when the yeast’s no longer active and the beer’s cooled down. If a beer were to be dry-hopped for too long at high fermentation temperatures, those essential hop oils we all love so much would simply burn off, leaving behind a rather unremarkable IPA with some gnarly attributes. So, it’s pretty understandable why we usually do things the Ranger way. But, for Slow Ride, our brewers experimented with what would happen if we did dry-hop with active yeast in the vessel. Turns out, it transforms the hop profile into something awesome, if done correctly.

Without giving away too much about the process, because I don’t want the brewery’s brightest to chase me down with pitchforks, a method was devised to transfer fermentation-temperature Slow Ride into our dry-hop tanks, where those tropical hops were added. It’s a quick process: Beer’s circulated through the dry-hop tanks quickly, and then to the centrifuge to separate out the used hops. What we found was that the active yeast eats up essential hop oil (terpene), and spits it back out as oxygenated terpene, bio-transforming its flavor and aroma profile into something amazing. How does this work exactly? I don’t know, I’m not a chemist. But I do know that this is how Slow Ride gets its unique tropical character, which goes beyond what the normal dry-hopping process would have delivered.

So, the next time someone asks you how New Belgium was able to get such vivid notes of lime, blueberry, mango, grapefruit and melon into such a small beer? Tell then it’s biotransformation.

When they ask you what that is, just tell them to slow down and pop open another beer.

 

Cheers — Chris


* Looking for Slow Ride in Texas? Our friends in the Lone Star State can find Slow Ride under the name New Belgium Session IPA beginning in early March. Don't worry: It's still the same green and yellow package and label with the same awesome couch bike and, most importantly, the same great beer.


Long before Slow Ride Session IPA (aka Session IPA in Texas*) landed on shelves, it began as a concept. Not a “hey, let’s brew any old session IPA” concept, but more of a “hey, let’s brew the most exotic, tropical session IPA we’ve ever tasted.”

When the brewers here at New Belgium formulate a beer recipe, the process often begins with a flavor map. That is, brewers sit down to discuss desirable flavors and aromas they’d like to spotlight in the finished product (like, how a chef forecasts which flavor combinations would be ideal for a new dish). The brewers mapped out the specific notes they wanted to see in Slow Ride—with a heavy nod to the tropics—and then selected hops best suited to create that profile: Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic, Amarillo and Citra, to name a few. Pretty badass hops known for citrusy, tropical flavors and aromas. But, for Slow Ride, a slightly tropical session IPA just wouldn’t do. The mission was to create a quaffable IPA bursting at the seams with exotic character. So, our team devised a new dry-hopping technique. Naturally.

For our hoppier offerings like Ranger, the standard practice is to dry-hop after the fermentation process is finished, when the yeast’s no longer active and the beer’s cooled down. If a beer were to be dry-hopped for too long at high fermentation temperatures, those essential hop oils we all love so much would simply burn off, leaving behind a rather unremarkable IPA with some gnarly attributes. So, it’s pretty understandable why we usually do things the Ranger way. But, for Slow Ride, our brewers experimented with what would happen if we did dry-hop with active yeast in the vessel. Turns out, it transforms the hop profile into something awesome, if done correctly.

Without giving away too much about the process, because I don’t want the brewery’s brightest to chase me down with pitchforks, a method was devised to transfer fermentation-temperature Slow Ride into our dry-hop tanks, where those tropical hops were added. It’s a quick process: Beer’s circulated through the dry-hop tanks quickly, and then to the centrifuge to separate out the used hops. What we found was that the active yeast eats up essential hop oil (terpene), and spits it back out as oxygenated terpene, bio-transforming its flavor and aroma profile into something amazing. How does this work exactly? I don’t know, I’m not a chemist. But I do know that this is how Slow Ride gets its unique tropical character, which goes beyond what the normal dry-hopping process would have delivered.

So, the next time someone asks you how New Belgium was able to get such vivid notes of lime, blueberry, mango, grapefruit and melon into such a small beer? Tell then it’s biotransformation.

When they ask you what that is, just tell them to slow down and pop open another beer.

 

Cheers — Chris


* Looking for Slow Ride in Texas? Our friends in the Lone Star State can find Slow Ride under the name New Belgium Session IPA beginning in early March. Don't worry: It's still the same green and yellow package and label with the same awesome couch bike and, most importantly, the same great beer.


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