Podcast Episode 217: North Park Beer’s Kelsey McNair Is Making Better West Coast IPA By Tinkering with Hazies

It’s hard enough to win a GABF medal in an IPA category. In 2021, North Park Beer won two—one hazy, one West Coast. Founder Kelsey McNair discusses their dogged approach to improvement and new techniques to maximize the flavor and impact of hops.

Jamie Bogner Dec 13, 2021 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 217: North Park Beer’s Kelsey McNair Is Making Better West Coast IPA By Tinkering with Hazies Primary Image

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Kelsey McNair of San Diego’s North Park Beer still can’t quite fathom how the brewery walked away with two medals in IPA categories in the 2021 Great American Beer Festival—a silver for their Art Is Hard hazy IPA, and a bronze for their imperial IPA, Army of the Kinda Dead-ish.

On the surface, it looks improbable—while they’re both IPAs, their executions are very different. However, McNair says their exploration of hazy-IPA brewing techniques that made the medal for their imperial West Coast IPA possible. Specifically, he says it’s the reduction in heat and their move to minimize the amount of boiled hops that has led to marked change in the quality of their IPAs, regardless of style.

On the hazy side, Art is Hard doesn’t see hops until the fermentor (and when it does, they’re not your standard T-90 pellets). On the West Coast side, extensive use of late hopping and advanced hop products mean less vegetal matter and less cooked-hops flavors.

In this episode, McNair outlines their medal-winning approach, touching on:
- building a better platform for hop flavor with pilsner malt
- the benefit of lower-temperature hop stands
- recirculating while dry-hopping with a whirlpool arm inside the fermentor - using Cryo, Lupomax, and Incognito to increase hop saturation
- building hop blends
- the non-linear nature of hop loads in relation to gravity
- increasing bitterness in canned IPAs to extend their shelf life

And more.

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