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Smooj, the heavily-fruited smoothie-like hard seltzer produced by the brewing team at HOMES Brewery in Ann Arbor, Michigan, may draw the ire of certain brewing purists, but its approach is captivating consumers across its growing footprint. It flies in the face of conventional logic around hard seltzer, embracing more rather than less—more calories, more flavor, more body. And the novel approach has inspired a growing subcategory of the hard seltzer market, as more craft brewers try their hand at similar beverages. Yet one thing sets Smooj apart—Panchamé and the brewing team are just as passionate about making fruited sour beer—from coolshipped spontaneous brews to pitched mixed-culture beers and quick-sour iterations—and that broad-based love of fruit and flavor finds its way into many of their different products.
In this episode, HOMES and Smooj head brewer Nick Panchamé shares their approach to hard seltzer, from fermenting the base to acidity, sweetness, flavor development, and maintaining product integrity in the can. Along the way, Panchamé discusses:
- taking a culinary approach to flavor development in sour beer and hard seltzer
- fermenting a clean, high-gravity seltzer base
- paying attention to water chemistry in hard seltzer
- building complex flavors with all real and natural ingredients
- targeting natural levels of residual sugar and acidity to accentuate fruit flavor
- balancing intensity with drinkability in hard seltzer
- exploring thiol-optimized yeast in hoppy beers
- brewing with Michigan Chinook and Michigan Copper hops
- taking a creative approach to lagers with New Zealand hops
This episode is brought to you by:
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