The Haas Blog

Collaboration dreams: Brewing with INCOGNITO® before social distancing

Apr 23, 2020 Micah Cawley

Like most brewers out there, the COVID-19 crisis left the John I. Haas Innovations Brewery with some beer in the tank. I certainly understand the urgent need for social distancing, but I have to say—the beer we left behind was a real standout. Maybe I should say the beer we ALMOST left behind, because, thankfully, it’s actually getting a second life.

A few weeks ago, the HAAS® team was getting all geared up to share our latest Innovation Brews with attendees of the Craft Brewers Conference in San Antonio. For the CBC in 2019, we created a line-up of collaboration brews and everyone enjoyed them so much, we decided to do it again. This year, we teamed up with Urban South Brewery to celebrate their new location in Houston.

Urban South was an ideal brewing partner. After all, they’ve never been afraid to push boundaries of craft beer. Paradise Park, a refreshing lager brewed with pilsner malt and Huell Melon hops, showcased a unique ability to create the perfect beer for their hot and thirsty hometown of New Orleans. And their Citra® and Mosaic® IPA, Holy Roller, was an instant classic. So much so that, at times, it’s been challenging to keep up with demand. Which is one of the reasons Urban South decided to expand to a new location in Houston.

Jacob Landry and Kyle Huling, Urban South’s founder and co-founder, got to work assembling a fearless team. Alex Flores and Eric Epps would handle brewing operations in New Orleans, while Dave Ohmer and Justin and Marin Slanina would run the Houston operation. Back in September 2019, Urban South traveled to Yakima for harvest—and we got to talking about ways we might collaborate.

It’s no secret that hops contribute unique flavors to beer, especially when you’re adding upwards of 8lbs/bbl into the fermenter. But dry hopping at those levels can result in significant beer loss. At the John I. Haas Innovations Center, the R&D team has spent years developing novel hop products that can boost the flavor impact of hops while avoiding those real beer losses. INCOGNITO® is a 100% natural flavor and aroma hop product designed to be used in the whirlpool and imparts variety-specific flavor into beer without absorbing valuable wort. Originally available in Citra®, Mosaic®, and Ekuanot varieties, INCOGNITO® is now available in SABRO and HBC 472 as well.

Prior to joining Urban South, Justin Slanina had experimented with INCOGNITO® and he liked the results. Now, at Urban South HTX, he had a whole new playground to explore and was ready to push the limits of brewing with new hops and hop products. We decided that Dave, Justin, and Marin would team up with me, HAAS Brewmaster, Virgil McDonald, and HAAS Brewing Solutions Specialist, Michael Visgil, to develop a couple of recipes with INCOGNITO® and other hops for the San Antonio CBC. We called them SWAB IPA and (the now aptly named) Nothing is Under Control Double IPA.

SWAB is short for “Super Whirlpool Aroma Booster” and uses INCOGNITO® Citra® to create an aromatic orange zest and peel flavor that just about jumps right out of the glass. Nothing is Under Control Double IPA combines INCOGNITO® SABRO with another top-secret HAAS hop product to unleash an aroma profile that starts out like banana but moves to floral with a wild mix of raspberry and coconut.

Unfortunately, after six months of collaboration and hard work, the CBC was forced to cancel due to COVID-19 outbreak. The good news is, Urban South was able to get the beers packaged up and they are now available for take-out at their Houston location.

So, if you’re still dreaming of San Antonio and want to support your local brewer, pick up some SWAB or Nothing is Under Control at Urban South Brewing HTX at 1201 Oliver St. in Houston.

Cheers! And stay safe.


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