Unfiltered: The Raccoon Is Free

By John Gillooly, Drake’s Brewmaster
June 12, 2017

In the summer of 2013, we embarked on a project to create a new IPA, a complement to our classic Drake’s IPA. Our goal was to feature some of the new hop varieties coming out of Yakima valley. Beyond the grapefruit and pine notes of the classic “C” hops (Cascade, Centennial and Chinook) we use in our IPA, these new hops can have more tropical notes, sharper and brighter citrus, as well as aromas we like to term as “dank.”

We first rolled these out as the “X” series of IPAs (X 1-6) and on Batch 7, we gave the beer the working name “7×70” (a reference to its, at the time,  7% ABV and 70 IBUs). At this point, we were set on the malt portion of the recipe – a clean, minimalist grist that gave just enough body to hang the hops on, but not so much that it was in any way sweet. But the hops! …We played with the hops a lot. We brought new experimental varieties in and played with them in a bunch of different combinations. We had a lot of fun, though I think some people were getting pretty tired of our unwillingness just to pick a hop bill and stick with, and learned some interesting stuff.

And after all that, we are finally rolling out the finished product, which we have named “Foraging Raccoon IPA.” The same simple grist has made the final recipe, a blend of 2-row pale malt, toasted rice flakes, and lightly caramelized malted oats. To that, we add El Dorado for bitterness, a distinctive new school hop that underpins the brew with a lightly tropical presence. We reinforce that presence with a firm dose of Equinox, which adds citrus notes and a light herbality. We finish with a dry hop featuring 3 very distinctly “new school” hops:

• Lemondrop (formerly EXP 01210), a Cascade descendent that features a brightly citric character.
• Mandarina Bavaria, a new German hop that has a bit of spice, as well as an aromatic profile that has resulted in the hop being nicknamed the “Tangerine Machine.”
• And finally, Idaho #7, a new favorite around here at the brewery that features dank citrus and lush tropical aromatics.

The gestalt of the various iterations of hop aromatics is that of a deeply fruited hop presence that is unique in our beers. It’s been a fun journey and all of us here at the brewery are excited to see this beer put in bottles and released into the wilds to be enjoyed by more folks than just the patrons of our taprooms (and the occasional keg that we let slip out).  Grab a bottle and let us know what you think!

‘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.