A bright bloom from the gloom of winter.
We find ourselves right on the cusp of spring. This week, Wye Hill got a little taste of impending bloom. It came in the form of some much-welcomed warm weather and in the newest addition to our draft line, Primo Fiore– a chamomile lemonade hard seltzer.
Our previous forays into the world of hard seltzers, the Magnificent S.O.B. and Dragon Chaser, became fast favorites on the patio. Primo Fiore (‘first flower’ in Italian) follows in their footsteps formulaically, and the result is softly sweet and floral.
SOWING THE SEEDS
Craft beer is essentially the blood that pumps through the veins of Wye Hill. So, when our brewers make a seltzer–a beverage arguably consumed a bit more flippantly than a craft beer–they hold the product to the same standard as the various styles on tap.
“If I’ve got a seltzer on the menu next to the beers that we spend all of this time, effort and creative energy on, I want the seltzer to meet that same high bar,” said Greg Winget, Director of Brewing Operations.
The creation of Primo Fiore gave Greg, Owen and Nick the chance to experiment with ingredients they usually wouldn’t use in craft beer brewing. Making hard seltzers allows brewers more freedom in their choice of adjuncts– any ingredient added to the basic beer recipe.
“Adjuncts are really important because they’re really the core of what the product is,” Greg said. “So, instead of trying to augment flavors that are naturally occurring from ‘beer’ ingredients, you’re basically creating a flavor profile completely from scratch.”
Similar to its seltzer archetypes, Primo Fiore has a heavy fruit profile, balanced by additional ingredients. In this case, the brewers carefully chose Sicilian lemon and tangerine as their fruit-forward base. They then used Egyptian chamomile as a botanical element to build complexity. The resulting flavor profile is mellow but slightly tart, which motivated its loose classification as a “lemonade hard seltzer.”
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU SICILIAN LEMONS…YOU MAKE A LEMONADE HARD SELTZER
Because brewing a seltzer is considerably easier than a craft beer, our brewers wanted to make the process a bit more intensive– just for fun. For example, they did an “ultrasonic extraction” in which they vacuum sealed chamomile flowers and Everclear inside of a bag. When put in an ultrasonic cleaner, the Everclear is physically vibrated into the nooks and crannies of the botanicals.
Greg believes that the addition of a seltzer to the menu broadens the scope of people who are able enjoy the niche craft product that our brewers create.
“I do think it’s a great way for people to experience the kind of flavor tinkering that we do, either if you have some kind of gluten intolerance, or you don’t drink beer for whatever reason,” he said.
In a gesture nothing short of incredibly romantic, Greg was particularly motivated by one very special super-fan of our seltzer program– his partner Courtney. Raised in Sicily, she inspired the use of the Sicilian lemon, a unique variation of the fruit.
We very much welcome this sweet, sweet sentiment into the walls of Wye… just as we welcome the first taste of spring. The first flower, if you will.