For many, January means a short period of restraint. It might involve going vegan, cutting back on carbs, or going tee-total for the month. We respect anyone doing all this for their health or the planet but for us, January means brewing the biggest, boldest and most alcoholic beer we make.
It wasn’t meant to be that way. Like all great things, Putty came about mostly by accident and circumstance. Our giant Galaxy, Mosaic and Azacca DIPA was originally brewed for Northern Monk’s Hop City festival back in 2016. With heroes like The Alchemist and Other Half pouring, we knew we needed to brew something special – not so much to impress them but to be able to stand tall next to them.
Being a hop festival, choosing the style was easy – go DIPA or go home – so our thoughts turned to the hop bill. For a long time, James had wanted to do a single-hop Galaxy IPA. At the brewery we love this Aussie hop so much it’s a running joke. Like Mosaic it feels a bit wilder than many of the new world varieties. Yes you get loads of citrus and mango, but there is also a rough-torn pine tang, backed by the raucous bitterness it imparts even when used after flameout and in the fermenter. It was hugely exciting to us, but we didn’t have enough for a whole batch. Mosaic, to us, was the natural partner with its wilder edge but proper juicy fruit character, and we teased out the latter with a little bit of Azacca – a very soft and juicy hop that comes across a bit like the leftovers of a fruit salad. It’s a complex and rich aroma, perhaps the most complex DIPA we make.
The Putty malt bill was also a landmark moment, as we now use the combination and relative quantities across most of our DIPAs and IPAs. When paired with our mineral-heavy, rich water profile the wheat and oats make it pillowy and light, while the hint of malt sweetness is never enough to interfere with the hops.
It was meant to be a one off, like so many of our beers are. But we were so blown away by both the beer and the reception it got at Hop City that we quickly reneged on that idea. The following year we made it a few months early, the reason being that Putty (read Galaxy) takes time to mellow out and calm down. If we sent it out into the world too soon there would be some hop burn, loads of raw bag-of-hop aroma and much less tropical fruit. So we brew it before Christmas, when tank turnaround time can be slower and it has time to relax. While everyone gets fat on turkey and mince pies, the Putty sits and waits for its moment to shine in all its 8% hazy glory.
We’re very pleased to say that Putty 2018 is very nearly ready for release. In fact, we expect to can it next week and pop it in the shop next Friday (and fingers cross celebrate a successful Crowdcube campaign!). So sorry January puritans, there is nothing restrained about this brash DIPA… though all those doing Veganuary will be pleased to know that all our beers are at least vegan.
If you want to know more about the beer and our big DIPAs generally, check out the video we shot with the Craft Beer Channel back in December.