“Hello, my name is Michelle and I am a reformed hop-hater.”
It’s true. I have hated IPA and other loosely defined “hoppy-beer” my entire beer loving, beer swilling life. Until last year. I was in Tulsa for work and the only beer they had on tap at this particular restaurant was Atlas IPA from Marshall. The server talked me into it, I begrudgingly agreed, and my beer experience was transformed. I have never looked back.
I don’t know if my palate changed, or I grew out of my “I ONLY drink porters and stouts!” phase, or if the beer gods just decided it was my time. Regardless, I have now fully embraced the hops, the double IPA, the triple IPA, dry hopping, wet hopping, all of it. I want hops in my mouth all the time. Well, hops and brunch.
Imagine my delight as I sat down for brunch at Bull & Bush and along with my food menu, I was also presented with a hop menu. “What, pray tell, is this?” I inquired to our waiter. “Oh, we are doing hop infusions. You pick your hops, pick your beer and we bring it to you in the The Hop Inciter 3000 – a French press. You let it steep as long as you want and ta da – fresh, hop infused beer.” Whaaaaa? Yes, please! (Note: Bull & Bush announced this awesomeness a few days ago, but clearly I missed the memo!)
After a serious consultation with the waiter who obviously knew his stuff, I went with the Man Beer, an IPA that I have enjoyed this past year and the Chinook hops.
The Hop Inciter 3000 was delivered to our table with beer and hops in place. The smell was amazing and as badly as I wanted to press and pour right away, I exercised some restraint, not something I am good at, and let it steep almost a full twenty minutes. When the smell became so enticing that I was seriously considering bathing in it, I poured two glasses. Man Beer already has a fair amount of hop flavor but the infusion of the Chinook hops added that extra amazing that made me want to park my ass there the entire day and conduct a full scale research and development program with different beers and different hops. The freshness of the hop flavor was super intense (beer lover technical term) and the citrus notes popped everywhere on my very happy tongue. I can’t believe that just twelve months ago I would have turned up my nose, scoffed, whined about how much I hate IPAs and walked away.
The fresh flavor the hops infused was certainly due in part to the local sourcing from Jack Rabbit Hill Farm in Hotchkiss, CO. A biodynamic, organic farm, they are home to Rabbit Hill Farm Winery and Peak Sprits, makers of CapRock Organic Gins and Vodkas.
Bull and Bush is using five different varieties for their infusions:
- Cascade and Crystal Hops, both used primarily for aroma but the Cascade having more citrus notes vs. the tropical banana and coconut of the Crystal.
- Chinook and Nugget Hops, both used for bittering. The Chinook having bits of smoky spice and the Nugget with more floral notes.
- Northern Brewer Hops, a English hop used both for aroma and bittering with a woodsy flavor.
I am a big proponent of playing with food and the very tangible experience this offered was not only super fun, somewhat education if you were a beer novice, but made me feel like I was a part of what I was drinking rather then just being a passive observer watching someone bringing me stuff. Sure perhaps a bit hokey, but as if the green chili and mashed potatoes wasn’t enough to keep me coming back, this little gem of a program will keep my ass planted at Bull & Bush for as long as possible. I would hurry, however. No one could tell me how long this was going to be around and I would not take the chance of missing it.
Also, no more sissy wine parties for me; I will now be hosting Hop Your Own Beer parties. Yep.