It’s September and the last day of the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver. Myself and my partner head to one last brewery to check out some beers. We have to make it quick. Both of our phones only have 8% battery left, just enough to call an Uber.
We walk into Our Mutual Friend and immediately become inundated into this ultra-cool, urban atmosphere featuring bright colors, a modern design, and six proudly displayed Great American Beer Festival medals. It’s busy, and definitely the perfect end to the week. The beers displayed by a projector on the wall ranged from IPAs to Baltic Porters. And then it caught our eye: Zappa Weirding Way, a Saison-style beer dry hopped with Zappa®.
And it appears to have caught the tastebuds of judges, too. Zappa Weirding Way received the Good Food Award for the beer category in January. We talked with Jan Chodkowski, head brewer for OMF to discuss the beer and brewing with Zappa®. He says he “loves hops that are fruity and dank – distinct yet complement the beers they are in.” So, what better variety to feature for their next Weirding Way Saison series than Zappa®. (And shoutout to Crosby Hops for supplying the Zappa® for this brew!)
“I had tried some IPAs or pale ales with Zappa® hops while visiting the PNW (Pacific Northwest) a couple of years back and just thought it was such a delicious hop. I'm a huge fan of Neomexicanus varieties so when I learned about Zappa® (hops), we had to get some for our beer. We really like to do different treatments or hoppings on our Brett Foeder beer, Weirding Way, and thought Zappa® would work awesome as a dry hop addition, and it turned out great!” Chodkowski said.
Zappa® is a wild Neomexicanus hop variety hailed from the mountains of New Mexico. CLS Farms worked with Todd Bates, cultivator of hundreds of Neomexicanus varieties, to breathe life into Zappa® hops. Known for its wild aromas of passion fruit, herbal spiciness, and purple, this is definitely a weird hop. Zappa Weirding Way naturally made sense.
The beer is a Saison, which translates to season, and is part of a series called Weirding Way that features a base brett foeder and then dry hopped with a featured variety. The beer style originated from the French-speaking area of Belgium.
“It's (Saisons) usually a light and dry beer with the yeast character driving the overall flavor of the beer,” Chodkowski. “Saisons also can be complemented by hops or spice or almost any other ingredient you can put in a beer but the overall goal is a lighter, highly carbonated refreshing beer.”
Chodkowski said they rack the base beer from the brewery’s foeder into a conical fermenter and dry hop in there. The result is a spicy tropical fruit aroma so good we stashed a whole bottle in our luggage to bring all the way back to Yakima to share with friends at harvest.
Zappa® Weirding Way is available in bottles at Our Mutual Friend in Denver. In the coming weeks, OMF has plans with several other breweries on mixed culture brews including a mixed culture IPA with Station 26 and a sour ale with American Solera, and a Barleywine brewed with Colorado malt and hops with Tahitian vanilla.
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