There is more to hops than meets the IPA.
Spirit makers are increasingly integrating hops’ varied aromas and tastes into their recipes. Although known mostly for its bitterness, the wide range of hops grown throughout the world can be floral, citrusy, earthy, or spicy, to name but a few characteristics. And, it is that diversity that offers distillers an opportunity to produce hoppy spirits that will refresh you, quench your thirst, and please your palate. If you love beer, give these hopped spirits a try. If you love booze, then it’s a no-brainer.
The family-owned Charbay must truly love their hops. The 650 cases of Lot No. 3 involve 6,000 gallons of Bear-Republic Brewery IPA distilled into 590 gallons of whiskey. The IPA has Chinook, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial hops, each possessing its own distinct flavor profile, such as pine, grapefruit, flowers, lemon, black pepper, and licorice. It is aged in French oak for 28 months.
In fact, R5 Lot No. 3 is one of Charbay’s many hoppy whiskeys:
- Whiskey Release III: Involves a 20:1 pilsner-whiskey ratio. The “III” incorporates choice hops and it is aged two ways for 14 years.
- Whiskey Release IV: Same as Release III, but aged two more years (released this year).
- Whiskey S (Lot 112A): Aged for 29 months in French oak, this whiskey involves a 10:1 ratio of Bear Republic’s Big Bear Stout to Charbay whiskey. The stout contains cascade and centennial hops, which balances out the caramel and pronounced malt emanating from the robust stout.
Childhood friends Derek Bell and Andrew Webber started out like many craft brewers by home brewing beer in their garage. However, they chose to set a course for the world of whiskey. Their brewing knowledge prevails in Hop Monster. The malty whiskey is infused with Amarillo, Saaz, German Hersbrucker and French Strisselspalt hops, along with Belgian yeast and malts. The eclectic ingredients impart an assortment of floral, citrus, and herbaceous flavors into the whiskey.
New Holland brews beer and distills spirits, so they know a thing or two about hops. It only seems natural they would include hops in their spirits. The golden Hatter Royale whiskey is infused with floral and citrus-laden Centennial hops that is noticeable in the nose and lasts throughout the aftertaste. A touch of earthy spice and honey accompany the lemon-grapefruit taste and aroma provided by the hops.
This unique spin on hops infusion involves dry hopping the Whiskey with Teamaker hops, which contains almost no bitterness. As its name suggests, Teamaker hops produce a flavor similar to tea, as well as a floral bouquet. Locally harvested blackberry honey provides added sweetness to a whiskey that also enjoys malt, vanilla, and caramel. It is aged for three years.
Named after a Canarsie Nation chief during New York’s time as a Dutch colony, the recipe is based on the art of making “Holland gin” from American rye whiskey – an early 19th century practice. The process involves the use of cluster hops (often used in stout beers), juniper berries, and three years of aging in an oak barrel. The hoppy taste and smooth finish remind us of America’s distilling history, as well as the modern day skill used to make this unique gin.
Portside is another brewery that also distills spirits, so they are well educated in the diverse nature of hops. The infusion of fresh, whole-leaf Cascade and Centennial hops into their original Silver Rum offers drinkers a unique citrus-hop flavor complemented by notes of pine and even a hint of basil. This award winning rum offers both a balanced flavor profile and a smooth finish that will make you appreciate the shores of Lake Erie as much as the shores of any Caribbean Isle.
This small Vermont distillery is the product of father and son’s dream. The Hopped Gin exemplifies the family’s intent on handcrafting spirits in small batches. Hopped Gin emerges after alcohol vapors pass through locally produced citrusy Vermont Cascade hops, as well as organic juniper berries. Largely a smooth, classic gin, one will sense the cascade hops on the nose, which will mix with citrus and juniper flavor.