“Foolish consistency is the hob goblin of little minds.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Alpha Session is different this year.
Hold the phone. Don’t fret. We haven’t abandoned the Alpha Session you loved before. Let us explain what we mean here.
Each year the hop crops are different in varying degrees. Rainfall fluctuates; temperatures differ; one field’s aromas can diverge from the next of the same hop; and hop growers are always introducing new varieties into the mix. Last year’s CTZ can be great, but this year’s may not be anything to write home about. It’s natural.
“Hops are a changing agricultural product; a hop can vary from one year to the next; and there are always new varieties coming out,” explains Drake’s Head Brewer John Gillooly. “Our seasonals are the place where we get to really dig in with the best hops in our supply in a given year.”
Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not just going to decide that EKGs (English hops, East Kent Goldings) are great this year and stick them in Alpha Session. We keep in mind the flavor profiles of the previous batches. We just don’t fill compelled to use the exact same recipe.
As Gillooly puts it, “We are not constrained to make these beers consistently the same recipe, but to make them consistently awesome.”
Alpha Session this year will have the bright, citric American hop profile with the slight dank, pine edge that characterizes our NorCal bitter. We are using a large addition of Citra in the whirlpool and a heavy-handed dry hop with Simcoe for the slight dank, pine character loved by West Coast hop heads; El Dorado for juicy citrus and lemony flavors; and Experimental Hop 01210, which stood out amongst new hops for its pleasant floral, pine, and citrus peel aromas. How did we choose these hops? They were the best for the job.
Alpha Session, 3.8% ABV, 50 IBUs, will release on draft at Drake’s Barrel House (and at the Boonville Beer Festival) on Saturday, May 4, and this year (another change) they will be packaged in 4-packs of 12oz bottles available shortly thereafter.
Oh, but we’re not done with the good news here. We didn’t stop the Session brewing with Alpha Session alone. Starting this year brewers in the Bay Area and beyond have declared that May is Session Beer Month, and we are getting into the spirit with Alpha and its dark twin.
Omega Session will be an under 4% ABV dark, American hopped, session beer (session CDA, perhaps?) available at the Barrel House and on draft in the Bay Area. Omega Session features a brooding, dark malt character and a dank, herbaceous hop tone with prominent Mosaic and Simcoe hops (both great this year).
So stop by in May the Fourth for a pint or several of our light and dark side, appreciate our attention to the hops, and walk in a straight line home. Cheers.
**Want to know more about Session Beer Month?**
Follow on Twitter: @SessionBeerMay
Like on Facebook: facebook.com/SessionBeerMonth
Mark your calendar for the 1st Annual NorCal Session Fest hosted at Drake’s on May 25th featuring Session Beers (craft brews under 5% ABV, and preferably under 4.5%ABV) from around California. The fest will benefit the East Bay Bike Coalition. More details to come.