Podcast Episode 139: Andy Farrell, Brewing Innovation Manager for Bell's Brewery, on the Delicate Design of Low-Cal IPAs

The longtime Bell’s brewer dives into the minutiae that make this evolving style of highly hopped, low-calorie beer so compelling, and discusses the particulars behind one of their biggest releases in recent history—Light Hearted Ale.

Jamie Bogner Jun 17, 2020

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Making a great low-ABV, low-calorie beer is a lot more work than just scaling down a larger recipe. So, when Bell’s Brewery decided to enter the red-hot low-calorie category with a lighter riff on their popular Two Hearted Ale IPA, Brewing Innovation Manager Andy Farrell knew he had his work cut out for him.

In this conversation, he leads with a general discussion of the hops selection and validation process—from building a common lexicon in the team around aroma and flavor notes, to selection process, then integrating new crop years into the production cycle. The conversation turns to bitterness, where Farrell mentions that Bell’s has always dry hopped mainstay Two Hearted during active fermentation. When translating that signature Two Hearted character into the smaller format of Light Hearted, the team made clever choices, like adding a bit of Australian-grown Galaxy hops to the mix, and he explains the testing and design process behind that small but bold choice. In light IPAs, body is a big concern, and Farrell dives into the specific ways they fill in the otherwise hollow middle, only using traditional brewing ingredients—hops, water, yeast, and malt.

While exploring this new territory is always a process of iteration, Farrell believes that the idea drives the product, rather than the process resulting in a product. “You want to build a beer with the destination in mind,” says Farrell, “and the recipe being the map. Not with the destination unknown.”

This episode is brought to you by:

G&D
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Old Orchard supplies craft juice blends from the heart of Beer City USA. As the industry blending experts, they supply major national brands and growing breweries alike. They've been the best-kept juicy secret in craft beverage for years, but now the secret's out. Breweries across the board are experiencing a seamless transition to Old Orchard as their new juice supplier. So hop aboard the Old Orchard fruit train; their sample kit starter pack is waiting for you at www.oldorchard.com/brewer.

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This episode is brought to you by Hopsteiner–your premium hop supplier dedicated to delivering quality hops and hop products in every package. Visit Hopsteiner.com for a complete list of offerings or select “shop hops” to start ordering today.

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This episode is brought to you by Brewers Publications, publishers of “Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing” by Lars Marius Garshol. Equal parts history, cultural anthropology, social science, and travelogue, “Historical Brewing Techniques” describes Northern European farmhouse brewing and fermentation methods that are vastly different from modern craft brewing. Order your copy of Historical Brewing Techniques today at BrewersPublications.com.

Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].

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