I read an article yesterday (by Beer Man, Westword Blogs) about Tableside Whole Hop Infusions at Bull & Bush. That was around 2 p.m. By 4:15 I was at Bull & Bush to see what it was all about. As a self-proclaimed hops freak, I simply couldn’t wait to get there and check it out.
The first step was to select any one of Bull & Bush’s house brews. Then, to choose my hops. Three different varities of hops were offered: Cascade, Chinook, and Crystal. I had limited time to spend there, yet I wanted to try a couple of different combinations. So my companion and I decided to combine our efforts and split both beers. Since I am less familiar with Crystal hops, I chose to add them to a Stonehenge Stout. Though I haven’t run into many hoppy stouts over the years, I’ve always enjoyed them when I did. My companion wanted an IPA and sought my advice on which hops to add; I suggested Cascade.
The 20-ounce beers arrived at our table in French presses (or, according to Bull & Bush, the “Hop Inciter 3000”). The instructions were to slowly push down on the press until the hops were almost at the bottom and wait for about 5 minutes for maximum hoppiness–any longer than that posed the risk of becoming too bitter. Just after the 5 minute mark I poured the beers into the wine glasses that were provided, and the aroma was wonderful. Right away I felt the Cascade hops were the right choice for the IPA, though I suspect there aren’t too many kinds of hops that would negatively affect an already hoppy beer. But this addition really brought out the floral aroma and, to me, also smelled and tasted a bit skunky. I realize “skunky” is not always a friendly adjective when it comes to beer. But there are certain hops that have that skunkiness to them, and I like it.
The Stout with Crystal hops was interesting. The roasted chocolate flavor of the beer itself was still very noticeable. But the hops seemed to casuse it to have somewhat of a lighter feel, whereas stouts can often be quite heavy and filling. I didn’t necessarily taste much of the “white fruit, coconut, and banana” as was in the description of Crystal hops, most likely because they were in a dark beer. But, regardless, it was tasty and extremely enjoyable.
As of next week Bull & Bush plans to add 2 additional styles of hops, Nugget and Northern Brewer. And I plan to return, multiple times, to continue experimenting with exciting and hopefully delicious combinations. I’m thinking the Nuggets might go well in the Stonehenge Stout, and the Crystals better suited for a lighter-bodied beer. In any case, Whole Hop Infusion at Bull & Bush is a fun time, and YOU should go!