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Award-Winning Icicle Brewing Q&A with CLS Farms


icicle brewing one in eight campaign
One in Eight is campaign increasing awareness and raising funds for breast cancer. Photo from last year's brew day features (left to right) Pam Brulotte, Collin Christianson, Shelley Desmarais, and Eric Desmarais.

Nestled in a small mountain town in Central Washington lies Icicle Brewing Company. Opened in 2011 by Pam and Oliver Brulotte, the brewery has grown from a smaller system producing several notable core beers – Priebe Porter, Bootjack IPA, and Dark Persuasion – to a growing production brewery servicing beer lovers all over the state.


Today, Icicle Brewing is known for its delicious hazy beers and clean and crisp IPAs, along with a series of decadent stouts and the occasional tongue-quenching sour. Of those beers, Alpenhaze Hazy IPA ranks among its most popular. Featuring El Dorado, Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic, this “light and pillowy” beer has won several prestigious awards, including a gold medal at the 2023 World Beer Cup in the hazy pale ale category.


The Icicle Brewing and CLS Farms partnership goes deeper than simply supplying hops straight from the source and our annual collaboration beers. The Brulotte family who previously farmed hops in the Prosser region of the Yakima Valley, is closely related to the Desmarais family. Oliver and Eric’s fathers were first cousins. Pam and Shelley have become close friends and collaborated on several projects including the One in Eight campaign that brews beer and raises money for breast cancer research and support.


A shared appreciation for one another’s craft, aligned values for producing a high-quality product, and strong friendships have allowed Icicle Brewing and CLS Farms to form a synergistic connection beyond just hops and beer. 


To hear more on how Alpenhaze Hazy IPA rose to success, check out or Q/A with Collin Christianson, research and development manager at Icicle Brewing. CLS Farms is proud to supply the El Dorado for this award-winning beer and we look forward to continuing to work with Icicle on several collaboration beers. Stay tuned for more of these collaborations in 2024.


icicle brewing beer tap list
CLS Farms and Icicle Brewing work together closely, collaborating throughout the year on several campaigns.

Tell me about Alpenhaze without giving away the secret sauce. What was the inspiration?


Bringing Alpenhaze to life was a really fun project. At the time, we were a bit late at adopting a hazy IPA into our portfolio. The good thing about that is that we had the opportunity to learn from a lot of other talented brewers as we were developing our own interpretation of hazy IPA. We are also lucky to have a five-barrel pilot brewery where we can experiment and have the opportunity to dial in new beers. We also performed a lot of sensory analysis on hazy IPA while we were working on what direction we wanted to go with Alpenhaze. 


Ultimately it was our connection with CLS farms that brought Alpenhaze together. El Dorado was certainly already a highly regarded and well-known hop, but at the time we were having some trouble sourcing it until we teamed up with CLS Farms and the rest is Alpenhaze history. 


Alpenhaze is brewed with El Dorado, Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic. What about this combination of hops makes Alpenhaze such a sought-after beer?


I have a fond place in my heart for pairing the classic trinity of Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic together. That said I'm also extremely driven by innovation, and over the past few years the hop industry has certainly kicked out a number of amazing and new innovative products.

I'd also be remiss not to say that we’re standing on the shoulders of giants that have successfully worked with these great hops before us. Extensive market research and sensory evaluation are certainly other important factors in developing the successful hop combinations that we have been able to make work for us at our brewery. 


While we enjoy leaning into the Holy Trinity of hops, it is truly the uniquely fruity and tropical character of El Dorado that makes Alpenhaze the beer that it is today.


alpenhze hazy ipa from icicle brewing
Alpenhaze Hazy IPA is an award-winning beer brewed with El Dorado, Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe. Photo Source: Icicle Brewing Company

The beer recently won Gold at the World Beer Cup for the Hazy Pale category in addition to several other awards at GABF, Washington Beer Awards, and others. What do you attribute your success to? 


We are absolutely thrilled over the attention Alpenhaze has been able to garner in competitions regionally, nationally, and internationally. Its success is certainly attributed to the hard work put in by our whole team day in and day out. Ultimately, I believe its success comes down to our attention to detail and focus on continually working to improve our processes and SOPs. 


One of my favorite competition stories about Alpenhaze starts with the fact that the very first time we entered it into GABF it didn’t make it out of the first round. However, we took the judges' feedback to heart, invested in some affordable lab equipment, and took a deep dive into our brewing processes. The physical recipe never changed, but we evolved our process and the very next year we won Bronze at GABF, followed by Gold at WBC the following year. It was super rewarding to see the time and effort everyone invested result in receiving such prestigious awards.  


What was that moment like when you were in Nashville with the whole Icicle team?


I have to say that the experience in Nashville was unbelievable, almost like an out-of-body experience. While we had a recent GABF medal in our back pocket and we'd been receiving a lot of positive feedback about Alpenhaze out in the market, sitting at the WBC awards ceremony and hearing bronze, then silver announced, it is absolutely mind-boggling to explain what it's like to hear your beer get announced for the Gold medal. Everyone was so stoked it’s really hard to put into words.   


brewer rubbing hops icicle brewing
Collin Christianson is the research and development manager at Icicle Brewing Company.

What do customers say about this beer? What do you think they like about it?


I can honestly say that the success of Alpenhaze really started with our customers. It was a big hit at our taproom when we first launched the brand and were still dialing in the recipe. I think the fact that it is hop forward enough to appeal to hop heads, but still approachable enough to appeal to customers that typically don't gravitate towards IPA is one of its biggest strengths. It's able to hit the mark for a variety of customers whether they are looking for something hoppy, something fruity, a Pale Ale, an IPA, or even an easy-drinking wheat beer. It remains one of our top sellers and a favorite with our staff and customers alike for those reasons. 


Is there anything else you'd like to add about Alpenhaze or Icicle Brewing? 


While there are a number of things that come to mind, I think one of the most proud aspects of Alpenhaze is that we are able to produce this award-winning beer at volume and at a very approachable price point in the market. A big part of the challenge of developing this beer was how to produce a high-quality IPA at volume while competing at an affordable price point on the grocery store shelf. 


The other point I need to make about Alpenhaze is that every medal awarded to this beer has been won by a six-pack taken directly off the packaging line. While there are plenty of theories out there about how to best package beers for competition, a huge shout-out goes to our entire production and packaging team for putting in all the hard work day in and day out to consistently produce such a high-quality product for the market.


Alpenhaze IPA is available in Washington and Idaho at various locations, giving you ample opportunity to try the award-winning brew yourself. Have questions or comments? Email [email protected].  

 

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