For our latest edition of the HAAS® HopCast™, HAAS Account Managers Micah Cawley and Barbara Stone sat down with brewers Joel Shields and Danny Connors to talk about innovation and recipe development at Rogue Ales & Spirits, one of the nation’s most admired breweries.
Rogue’s hazy IPA, Batsquatch, has become their second-best selling beer, quickly closing in on the brewery’s legendary Dead Guy Ale. Brewed with the incredible pineapple punch of BRU-1™, Batsquatch was four years in the making. Here’s a quick excerpt from the conversation—and be sure to catch the full HopCast on Soundcloud for more from Micah, Barbara and the crew.
Micah: Danny, I notice you’re enjoying a Batsquatch IPA. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about?
Danny: Yeah, Batsquatch is a heavy hitter for us these days. We started talking about making a hazy IPA for about four years. A lot of breweries talked about brewing hazys for a long time but the big buzz around this style was: you can’t distribute it; it’s just not worth working on putting into a six-pack because the hop profile just dies off. We kept our eye on hazys for a long time…eventually we got real serious about it. I joke about it a lot—but I easily made more test batches of Batsquatch than anything we’ve ever made. Eventually, we got really happy with it so I sent it to Joel—since it’s his job to break down every recipe I send.
Joel: On a production side, the hardest part was just figuring out how to get a hazy IPA in a can with a somewhat stable haze and an aroma that will stick. We’ve had a few things that can help with that, like dry hopping. We also started centrifuging the beer before we dry hopped it, so it actually comes out pretty clear, then we dry hop it and it gets a really stable haze. It took a long time to figure that out. We talked with a lot of other breweries to figure out what works. It’s been four years but we finally got a recipe that worked—now it’s just about dialing in and keeping the flavor as consistent as we can.
Micah: What hops were you using in the dry hop?
Joel: We used BRU-1, Belma, Mosaic and El Dorado.
Micah: Huh, never heard of them (laughing)—can you tell me about BRU-1? When did you find out about it, and when did you start using it?
Joel: I noticed it at selection a few years ago. We got to sample some beers that HAAS had brewed with BRU-1. The thing we noticed was that BRU-1 gave some additional haze to beers. So the original recipe was just Belma, Mosaic and El Dorado—but, you know, some of those can be hard to find at times, so we needed to find something we could sub in and the BRU-1 worked out great. It kept a good haze and actually added a little more haze to it. And the flavor profile married up really well with the other hops we were using. The tropical, like El Dorado, and the fruity in Belma, so this worked out well.
Micah: It is working out well—it’s your second best selling beer, correct?
Joel: Yeah, it’s closing in on Dead Guy—and Dead Guy has been our number one beer forever.
Micah: When you’re developing new beers, and thinking about supply chain, how do you approach that?
Danny: Well we’re always thinking about availability. There’s no point spending six months to a year developing a beer, and then realize you’re never going to be able to get the hops to brew the 5,000–10,000 barrels you need. We certainly don’t want to limit ourselves, and we always try to make the best beer possible. But, in the end, if you can’t get the hops, you can’t get the hops.
If we’re looking for a new beer, whether it’s a West Coast IPA or a Hazy IPA, my thinking is to try to differentiate it from other IPAs that we have. So, if we’re going to brew another hazy, I’ll look at Batsquatch and try to give the next one something unique.
Micah: Have you ever brewed a single hop with BRU-1, or seen hops that it plays well with as you’ve looked at new beers?
Joel: One of the beers we’ve found it works well in, we call Pineapple Party Punch. It’s got pineapple, it’s got some coconut in it—so BRU-1 and Sabro works well, and we’re using some Vic Secret in it, you get this great tropical almost pina colada-type beer.
Danny: Yeah, that beer is something else.
Micah: As our tastes change and things progress, you’ve got a lot more tools at your disposal to get there big, tropical flavors, you start wondering what’s next. Do you guys have a flavor space you guys are exploring?
Joel: Wow. You know, when I started, you got Cascade and you got Centennial—that was it—and you had to make a good beer out of it. Now, you guys are producing enough good hops, I’m staying busy just trying to use the hops that are being produced!
Ready to try BRU-1™? Call your HAAS® sales representative today—or visit our distributor page to learn how to get your hands on this distinctive and unique hop variety.