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Hop oil pipeline

Perry Street, the first Spokane brewery to experiment with the recently released lupulin hop powder, now is playing with hop oil.

He Who Spelt It … Dealt It, a new spelt wheat IPA collaboration with Missoula’s Draught Works, uses steam-distilled El Dorado hop oil along with regular Denali and Simcoe pellets. The result is an intense, mouth-coating but clean bitterness that belies its IBU count of 65 and a deep, distinctive hop character.

“It doesn’t necessarily remind me of fresh hop beer, but it’s definitely got that green oil flavor to it,” says Perry’s Ben Lukes.

“It’s a super-fun product. It’s going to be another great tool to use to make awesome hoppy beer.”

Sierra Nevada pioneered the distilled hop oil process two years ago with the release of its Hop Hunter IPA, billed as delivering “intense wet hop flavor year-round.”

Now it’s being produced and sold as Hopzoil by Glacier Hops Ranch in Whitefish, Montana, which Lukes and Draught Works’ Kyle Sillars got to know when they worked together at Big Sky. “Kyle got in touch and said, we’d better use it,” Lukes says.

And use it they did. “We went to the high end of the scale and really jammed it through,” he says – though that still meant only 65 milliliters of oil in a 200-gallon batch.

The bitterness came through even more when the beer turned out lighter than expected, at 5.5 percent ABV, because the malted spelt wasn’t particularly cooperative in the mash.

Lukes and Pillars, who both have been brewing New England-style IPAs that get their haziness in part from malted wheat, wanted to use spelt in a beer instead to see how the flavor would compare.    

“We didn’t find much difference, but there’s so much hop presence, I don’t know that it would come through anyway,” says Lukes.

Customer reaction since the beer was tapped Saturday has been generally positive, he says, though some find it too overwhelming to order a second pint. “It definitely ruins your mouth for a while if you’re going to be tasting other beers,” Lukes says.

He next plans to produce a beer bittered with carbon dioxide hop extract, with hop powder in the middle and oil at the end –“all the newest innovations in one beer.”

But the oil will be dialed down a bit. “We’re going to go back to the range they recommend and not be so gung-ho about it,” he says.