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.”

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