Schlafly’s Hop Trial experience allows you to join the tasting team

Schlafly’s Hop Trial experience allows you to join the tasting team

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.

A guy/gal walks into a bar and orders up a new brew on tap, takes the first sip and when palate and brain connect, he/she decides the future relationship they’ll¬†have with that beer. ¬†You either like it, love it, hate it, or can do without it, but you as the drinker make a choice that will decide if you ever purchase that beer again. ¬†And that’s where the relationship pretty much ends, as the brewer has already made the beer and what you think of it is pretty much a moot point outside of your ever selecting it again.

But now you the drinker have a much bigger responsibility, if you want it.

This month,¬†Schlafly Beer¬†tapped its next Hop Trial beer with a new interactive experience at the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust St.) in downtown St. Louis and Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Ave.) located in Maplewood. ¬†Schlafly’s Hop Trial beers have been made available to customers¬†for years, but sometimes¬†under cleverly disguised numerical code names. ¬†Maybe you’ve run into a few.

323961_390154851044668_479588400_oBut now the new¬†Hop Trial Experience¬†allows guests to be a part of the tasting team to evaluate the flavor profiles of the hop. Each guest who orders the Hop Trial Beer will be allowed to share his or her tasting notes on the Hop Trial Boards, which will be showcased on the brewpubs’ walls. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been doing the program for a while with other beers like our Hop Trial Galaxy and Hop Trial Azacca, but now we‚Äôre inviting our brewery guests to participate in our taste panel and solicit their feedback,‚ÄĚ says Ambassador Brewer Stephen Hale.

The Schlafly Hop Trial program showcases Schlafly‚Äôs close relationship with hop farmers. The brewing team takes several trips over the year to visit the farms, sample different varieties, and select hops based on their flavor profiles. Co-founder Dan Kopman explains, ‚ÄúResearch institutions, dealers, and farmers continue to develop new varieties of hops. If they see promise, they want our feedback on suitability and demand for commercial brewing. Many of these hops are still in the early stages, on very small plots, say less than five acres. Many of the hops do not have trade names, only numbers. As a result of our close relationships with the farmers, we‚Äôre able to trial very specific hops, some where we have selected in the field, that we want our brewers to evaluate. The new experience connects our customers to hop growers in a really powerful way.‚ÄĚ

Other future plans for the Hop Trial Beers include varieties like the Michigan Cascade and Brewer’s Gold, two traditional hops now being grown in the new terroir of Michigan by farmer Steve Pendergast, a St. Louis University grad. Schlafly’s Hop Trial beer will feature the first commercial crop for the new farm. Others will feature new emerging varieties. For example, 07270 is a Steiner hop variety that has the flavor and aroma of mandarin and tangerine while 06277 from Steiner has berry fruit character, but also grapefruit to be very citrus forward. Another will be HBC 291 from the Yakima, Washington-based Hop Breeding Company, a hop with a noble hop character and HPA 035 from Hop Products Australia, a hop that has orange and pepper flavor and aroma. They will also be utilizing hops from Australia, England and Continental Europe as well.

With a production of around 15 barrels, the Hop Trial beers isolate a distinct hop to showcase the flavor profile of that variety. The brewery plans on introducing 13 Hop Trial beers in 2016 on a four week rotation period.

Right now you can try two Hop Trial beers.  At the Taproom on draft is The Hop Trial-Jaryllo.  It will be available for about a month and is a fruit-forward hop with flavors of banana, pear, and spice aroma.  At the Bottleworks location try the Hop Trial-Single malt, single hop beer brewed with the hop Huell Melon.  A variety known for its distinctive fruit characteristics including nuances of honeydew melon and strawberry.

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