SAN LEANDRO, CA ... The place is Yakima Valley, WA, it’s fall 2015 and Hop Harvest is in full bloom. Among trellises of vines towering over 15 feet tall, a small group of brewers can be found wondering around, pulling off wet hops, breaking them open to expose the glands and getting a smell and sense of what each one is all about. It’s a proud moment in particular for 21st Amendment Brewery’s brewmaster and co-founder, Shaun O’Sullivan, who finds himself in awe among an unnamed batch of hops in Row 21 (of course) in the experimental section of one particular HopSteiner hop field.
“I knew right away that this was the perfect new hop to incorporate into this year’s Hop Crisis, so we bought the whole row on the spot,” said O’Sullivan. “The Row 21 hop, with its grapefruit and floral character, adds an incredible layer to Hop Crisis. That’s the best part about making this beer and switching it up each time – playing around with hops on a big scale to really showcase their different aroma and flavor qualities.”
This year’s Hop Crisis Imperial IPA has a citrusy, tropical and stone fruit complexity offered up by Centennial, Equinox, Mandarina Bavaria, Row 21 (now named Eureka!) and Citra hops. The beer has a firm malt backbone of pale, Munich and wheat malt that supports a huge charge of late kettle addition hops. On top of all that, dry hops like Mosaic and Azzaca further layer with incredible aromatic textures. It’s all good fun with all those hops and at 9.7% ABV, even a little better.
“This was our first year producing Hop Crisis out of our new San Leandro brewery so to make it extra special we incorporated new hop varietals that we haven’t played with before and used different hoping techniques that create more flavor and aroma,” added 21st Amendment co-founder Nico Freccia. “When we first brewed this beer back at the pub we threw caution and logic to the wind and made the hoppiest beer we could brew. Now we’re just having fun upping the ante each time.”
Hop Crisis is part of 21st Amendment Brewery’s ongoing “Insurrection Series” and is named originally for the global hop crisis that occurred in the early 2000s when the scarcity and price of hops was astronomical.
“Back then we saw hops that would normally sell for $7 a pound rise to $28 and as other brewers were shying away we said, “Ef it – we’re brewing this beer anyway,” and we’re glad we did. It has been a definite crowd pleaser each year,” said O’Sullivan.
Hop Crisis four-packs hit shelves on July 1 in all of 21st Amendment’s current distribution territories and will be available until August. The carrier box tells the story of the fictional characters of Nico and Shaun’s alter-egos. They are on Alcatraz and are determined to free the hops from the Hop Syndicate who are hoarding these ingredients, depriving the people of their right to hoppy, aromatic beer. Pick up a pack in CA, OR, WA, AK, ID, MN, OH, ME, NH, VT, RI, MA, NY, NJ, DC, CT, DE, MD, PA, VA, GA, FL, NV, NC, SC and IL. For up-to-date availability, events and promotions, visit www.21st-Amendment.com.
ABOUT 21st AMENDMENT:
In 2000, Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan opened the doors to the 21st Amendment brewpub in San Francisco’s historic South Park neighborhood with Freccia managing the restaurant and O’Sullivan spearheading the brewing process. In addition to quickly becoming one of the city’s favorite pubs, 21st Amendment began expanding beyond the Bay Area by helping to pioneer the movement to canned craft beer. Known for their witty names and delicious brews, 21st Amendment offers year round selections, as well as seasonal offerings and their infamous ‘Insurrection Series’, a once-in-a-while limited edition release. Sold in 26 states, 21st Amendment operates out of its new San Leandro brewery headquarters and is among the top 50 craft beer brewers in America.
N.W. Beer Guide