We said it and we meant it: the latest release of our Homegrown Beer IPA series is the best yet. Lucky No. 7 is bold, and you bet its inspirational (read backstory here). But what exactly sets it apart from its six predecessors, you may wonder? We sat down with Bale Breaker Quality & Sensory Manager Jackie Beard to help support our *somewhat biased* claim with science.
What about Homegrown No. 7’s flavor profile makes it special?
Being here on the hop farm, we’ve gotten the chance to play with lots of experimental hops and to see some of our favorites make it to the big time; the Homegrown series is our chance to experiment with brand-new malts and figure out how to integrate them harmoniously with our hops. This Homegrown beer showcases our Francin Pale base malt, supported by our homegrown Copeland Pilsner, Francin Munich, Francin Dextrine, and Oat malts.
The Francin Pale has some really distinctive malt notes like cinnamon graham cracker, cake batter, and spicy rye crackers. We’ve tried to maximize the malt character with the hops in this beer: Citra® and Simcoe® for citrus and tropical aromas, HBC 630 and Loral™ hops for berry, plum, floral, and peach notes, and Pahto™ hops on the hot side for a dank resinous note.
It seems like the world is obsessed with hazy IPAs; while we really enjoy brewing them, Bale Breaker has been making clear IPAs packed with hop flavor since we started in 2013, and we’re continuing to push the limits on flavor intensity and novelty in our West Coast IPAs. Anyone who loves West Coast IPAs and wants to taste something fresh and different will love this beer.
What went into the sensory process both internally & externally to help perfect this recipe?
This beer is over a year in the making with sensory analysis driving our decision-making at every step of the way. After tasting our first harvest of homegrown malts in 2019, we noticed some flavors that we weren’t crazy about – specifically, there was a nut butter flavor which clashed with our favorite hops. Some local craft maltsters at Linc and Skagit Valley Malting thought that the malt variety we planted might be the culprit. So last winter, our sensory panel and leadership team tasted through base malts made with lots of different malt barley varieties and settled on our favorite to try planting in spring 2020: a Czech variety called Francin.
This Homegrown beer is the first one we’ve released with our Francin Pale base malt and we’re excited about how complex and distinct the malt character is. Francin malts make up over 50% of this malt bill including the specialty malts.
We’ve trialed multiple recipes now in the Imagination Station with our Francin Pale malt, including Mashtun Kutcher IPA, Piper’s Comet Pale, Mullet Over IPA and forthcoming Twin Pines Pale and Haze Runner IPA. The reception for our Francin-heavy batches like Mashtun Kutcher and Piper’s Comet in the Taproom has been awesome, and we definitely take into consideration feedback from the Taproom and sales data from our Imagination Station batches when deciding what to scale up into cans!
Every time we brew an experimental beer in the Imagination Station, our trained sensory panel evaluates that beer twice or more during the beer’s life to understand the balance and intensity of flavors at release and after a month of aging in the keg. Our goal is to continue experimenting with different hop combinations and styles to find out what pairs best with our different homegrown malts, and our beer fans get to participate in that process with us!
Tell us more about this new Czech strain of barley that went into the recipe, Francin. How did it make its way to the PNW?
I'll bunt that question over to our Co-Owner Kevin Quinn. Kevin?
There is a company out of Plymouth, WA called Columbia River Seed who is responsible for bringing the strain into the country. I was then tipped off by LINC Malt about this new type of variety they had, and they recommended we should take a chance at growing it ourselves – so that’s exactly what we did! As soon as we planted it, we were amazed by how well it grew and had a high yield per acre. Its primarily used as a pilsner malt but Great Western Malting hadn’t used it yet, so we decided to get it malted to Pale-2-Row. Glad we did because we’re really liking the way it’s working in our beers!
Well, there you have it folks. The proof is in the pudding - and backed by science! You can't argue facts. So come by the taproom to try this tasty brew fresh off the farm or click here to find it at a store near you. Cheers!
Posted June 04, 2021