Unfiltered: The Saga of Hop Vice

We’re putting a new beer in a 6-pack: Hop Vice. While this is technically a new beer for us, we have been making a White IPA—defined here as an unfiltered, wheat-based IPA—in one form or another for almost four years. The first version was called Abominably Jolly and was released in the fall of 2013 in tandem with Jolly Rodger, which that year was a Black IPA. In its original form it was a strong 9% ABV Pale IPA with a significantly tropical hop profile derived from a blend of New Zealand hops (primarily Motueka) and fancy American varieties like El Dorado and Citra.

We re-brewed this beer in the fall of 2014 as a one-off, but it lost its name (another brewery also had a beer with the word ‘Abominable’ in the name…sigh), so it was released as Abdominably Jolly. It was a fairly straight re-brew of the 2013 iteration, but featured the first appearance of Pilsner malt in the grist.

We gave this beer a pass in 2015, as we hated the new name (I mean, it was a nice idea…), and frankly, in 2015 we were brewing ovaries-to-the-wall and had no time for superfluous one-offs. Except…we liked this beer, and wanted to make it again, so in early 2016 we revived the style as Hopocalypse White Label. We dropped the ABV to 8.4% and tweaked both the grist and hop bill. White Label added rye for a more layered grain flavor, and a brand new German hop variety, Hallertauer Blanc, to add a white grape character to the tropical hop notes already established.

Hopocalypse White Label was, in our opinion, a real success—not just in that it sold well, but it was a really good beer that we wanted to get out in front of more people. To this end, we cut the ABV down to 6.2% and started test brewing Hop Vice as a draught-only release in our tasting rooms. We tweaked the hops some more, working in two new American hop varieties, Jarrylo and Idaho 7, and circled back to El Dorado. We increased the rye a bit, and added some unmalted wheat for both increased mouthfeel and to add complexity to the grain flavors.

So that’s the story of what’s in your six-pack—a new Drake’s beer, a White IPA brewed with wheat and rye and hopped with a blend of American, German and New Zealand hops that waft a dank tropicality over a complex of grain-driven aromatics.

-John Gillooly, Brewmaster

(Editor’s Note: Hopocalypse White Label 2017 was a new NE-style IPA,which was totally different than the 2016 bottle release.)

‘Unfiltered’ is a recurring column by our Brewmaster, John Gillooly, where he dishes on whatever topic he’s inspired to prosthelytize about. With over 20 years of brewing experience ranging from Red Hook (back when they were independent) to Dogfish Head, John’s take is always uniquely his and we do our best to bring it to you as it is…unfiltered.