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Powder Keg:  Boom! You’re Alive… Now hit me again.

Wed, 13 Nov 2013 18:55:00

 

When it’s time to knock the chill off without bloating the belly or blowing up the t-buds, Powder Keg is your come to the rescue Winter Seasonal. This is not your belt-busting holiday “fruitcake in a bottle.”

Far from it. The Powder Keg is more of a dark copperish IPA that goes great with the wind, snow and turkey stuffing but truth be told it can keep the party going when the storm breaks and the sun shines through.  It falls within the “Winter” rubric mainly because it’s an after dark beer, and there’s more dark during the winter.

Big Oil

The Powder Keg’s big without being heavy. We pack this puppy with an explosive amount of pure grade, highly volatile lupulin yellow cake, distilled from the ooziest of the oiliest Big C’s – – Centennial, Cascade, Chinook and Columbus. With a combustible quartet like that you’re thinking mushroom cloud but somehow, someway Master Brewer Dustin has found a way to smarten the bomb so it empowers without overpowering.

“You can call it magic, or whimsy it up with a word like ‘alchemy,’” winks Kellner, Worthy’s resident Deacon of Dry Hopp’n,.  “But it all comes down to knowing what you want and how to get it.” For Worthy’s first ever Winter Seasonal, during the season of “constant chocolate eating,” what Dustin wanted was a beer that lifted you up without weighting you down. At 7.1% ABV, the Powder Keg falls in between an IPA and Imperial IPA.

Spreading the Love

How did The Deacon build a beer that warms without burning the house down?  The answer’s in the name. Dry Hopping, a horribly misnamed term we used to describe the process of extracting the nectar from the hops post fermentation to flavor the batch.

Basically, you drop hop pellets into the tank where, if properly designed, they expand and gently fall to the bottom like snowflakes on a cold but calm day. Along the way down, the plump sacs of lupulin oil open up, releasing their citrusy, fruity, piney, and resiny flavors into the beer.

Most brewers do it once. That’s cool. Worthy does it twice. That’s hoprageous, but not outlandish. It’s simply putting hop flavor on a pedestal. Or, as we say, it’s taking balance to the extreme.

Beer-gasm, Broken Down

Back to the beer. Let’s break the Powder Keg down. It’s color is a rich, dark amber. It pours with a big thick head. It exudes a malty, pleasant carrot cake aroma with a hint of piney sap oozing from a fresh cut Doug Fir.  It’s got a crack, snackle poppy mouthfeel that’s worthy of a second swish around. It teases the tongue with an arresting warmth that travels up the spine and down to the cockles in the span of your proverbial heartbeat. It leaves the whistle languorously wet, and craving for more.  The malty sweetness on the front end unhurriedly graduates to a sophisticated dry bitterness that tickles the brain without braining the tongue.

In short, a catastrophic masterpiece that in the best holiday spirit triumphantly marries Heaven and Hell.  When crafty men began breeding hops to amplify the wonders of hop oil, this is the ale they had in mind.

The bitterness fades as a mere afterthought, like the frame on a Matisse, or Van Gogh. What shines through, brilliantly, is the playful, swirling synergy of about 200 hop oils that dance on the tongue and light up the head like a slow but torchy kiss from whichever Goddess it was the Greeks empowered to seduce and satisfy. The aroma tempts and the taste delivers.

Behold, Sustainable Bliss

So listen up Holiday Shoppers.  You’re on your way to a fabulous holiday party with people you adore. You want to come bearing gifts. You find yourself in the refrigerated beer aisle, gazing at all those rich holiday bombers. You want to dazzle your friends by selecting a seasonal that keeps the buzz alive.  It’s got to be balanced, extremely balanced.  No fruitcakes, no gut bombs, no cough syrup, no one-and-done jug of molasses thicker ‘n thieves.

You want a beer that pairs well with all of it, from the hors dourves to the dessert. You want a beer that doesn’t blow up all at once, but slowly discharges its warm combustible glow over the course of an evening.

What you want is a Powder Keg. Go ahead. Light the fuse. Boom! You’re alive. Now hit me again…

BGL

Dry Hopping, 101
 

The Mission: To extract the nectar from the fruit. On the left, a fresh Crystal hop, opened up, exposing the lupulin glands, where you find the love. On the right, a dried Cascade. Question: How can you grind the flower into a pellet without destroying the juice?
 

The Answer: you lightly and patiently mill the cone so on contact with the beer the pellet blossoms in all its glory, releasing the juicy oils.
 

Thar She Blows! You can see how the Indie Hop pellets stay aloft and slowly trickle down like snowflakes gently falling on a calm day. Boom! Flavor. More contact time, more precious oil. More oil, more flavor, more aroma.
 

In the Name of Science, Drink Up! Worthy Head Brewer Dustin Kellner and OSU hop breeder Dr. Shaun Townsend hesitating before the big pull.

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