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Thursday, 28 November 2013 06:47

Carton aims for new heights with hops

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HopRocketHow do you show your hoppy, flagship ale even more love after you've given it some craft beer rock star treatment by putting it into cans?

Give it a ride in a rocket.

That's what Carton Brewing plans to do with its newest equipment purchase, a cylindrical vessel perched on fin-like legs that now stands adjacent to a line of fermenters in the brewery. The goal is to punch up the dry-hop qualities of Carton's signature Boat beer and other hoppy ales under the company's brand.

Carton took delivery of the HopGun, as it's called by German manufacturer BrauKon, in mid-November, borrowing a page from Tröegs Brewing. The Hershey, Pennsylvania, brewery uses its HopGun – essentially a cold-side hopback, a giant Randall – as a companion piece of equipment to some other hop-handling gear to take the flavors gained from dry-hopping to new heights. (BrauKon also made the new custom brewhouses at Flying Fish, Tröegs and Sly Fox Brewing.)

TroegsHopGunThe folks at Carton saw the HopGun Tröegs acquired and envisioned such a device doing for their beers what it does for Nugget Nectar and Perpetual IPA, two Tröegs brews known for an abundance of hops.

"They (BrauKon) call it a HopGun. They made it look like a rocket, so we call it a hop rocket," Carton co-owner Augie Carton tells Beer-Stained Letter. "Any time we're looking to make a hoppy beer, we believe it'll be the right tool to do that."

That means Boat and Carton's imperial IPA, 077XX, are due for launch. Likewise with the 2014 version of Epitome, Carton's imperial black ale (10% ABV) that's already hopped out of this world. This year's run of Epitome will be released on Black Friday; it was brewed well before the hop rocket landed at Carton's confines in Atlantic Highlands and thus wasn't given the rocket treatment.

JeremyCartonHopGunIt's Boat, however, that Carton hopes will gain some extra finessing from the process, so the hoppy (35 IBU), 4.2% ABV session ale can hang onto more hop aroma and flavor, while the yeast can be tamped down some. (Available in draft and 16-ounce cans, Boat is lightly filtered before packaging to avoid losing some key hop qualities.)

"We haven't tried it out yet," Augie says, "but we think it will work to help set Boat better. We make Boat a live product. We want the yeast to be in there. We want Boat to evolve while it's living its life in kegs or cans. We want to have created something that evolves and changes and gets different, because we believe those changes are interesting.

"But we'd also like to set it in certain parameters, and we believe this tool will help us do that, as opposed to time or filtering. The objective here is to hopefully set that aroma profile while stealing some yeast out of it."

The HopGun essentially works like this: The vessel is loaded with hops and beer is infused into it, while a double-helix design creates an inner turbulence, dissolving the hop pellets as the beer circulates through the vessel, before eventually going on to packaging.

The crew at Tröegs put their HopGun through some inaugural paces by upping the usual dry-hop ante for Perpetual IPA (7.5% ABV, 85 IBU). The resulting beer – with a muscled-up aromatic wow factor – was featured at an event last June.

"We were extremely pleased with the results of the experiment, and our customers responded quite positively to the resulting beer," says Jeff Herb, a Tröegs spokesman. "The beer especially benefitted from the intensely aromatic nose created as a result."


Read 7454 times Last modified on Monday, 02 December 2013 16:39

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