At Tommy's Brewing Company, we recently marked a significant milestone in our journey – our 5th anniversary. To mark this occasion, we wanted to create something extraordinary, a reflection of five years of growth, dedication, innovation, and the unwavering support of our cherished patrons and the wider craft beer community.
After much contemplation, we proudly present Earthstrong, a big, bold and distinctive Triple IPA.
A Beer Style That Encapsulated a Movement
The choice to unveil an Anniversary IPA felt instinctive, as the India Pale Ale has remained synonymous with the craft beer revolution from its very inception. In a world often saturated with uninspiring mass-produced lagers, the IPA emerged to challenge the status quo, boasting "more hops, more flavor, and more bitterness." This ethos became the rallying cry for craft brewers worldwide. Over the years, the IPA branched into various sub-styles, including stronger Double and Triple IPAs, and hazy New England IPAs which accentuated juicy hop flavour and aroma, without the bitterness. This journey, and the range of options available, cemented the IPA's stature as the king of craft beer, enjoyed by beer fans across the globe.
Photo credit @pintsandpanels
Our IPA Journey
Tommy's Brewing wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Earthstrong. When we first opened our doors, we launched our flagship IPA Stowaway.
Inspired by the IPA’s transformation from a traditional British style to an American craft beer icon, we set out to combine elements from British and American brewing traditions into a single IPA.
As with traditional English IPAs it was malty with a rich bready backbone and sweeter notes of caramel and nuts. However, the hop profile was classic American West Coast, with clean initial bitterness and a lingering finish with notes of grapefruit, orange and floral undertones. It was tasty and interesting, and maybe just a bit muddled, and we always felt that there was room for improvement. With every batch we tinkered and refined, but eventually the time came where we felt a change of direction was needed.
Navigating New Rivers
Fast forward to July 2022, and while the world was slowly coming out of a pandemic, we found ourselves face to face, or zoom-to-zoom, with Vinnie Cilurzo.
Vinnie, the co-owner of Russian River Brewing Company, is revered within the craft beer community for creating some of the best IPAs ever made, including the iconic Double IPA Pliny the Elder, and the first Triple IPA, Pliny the Younger. This encounter, sparked by an unsolicited email from our friend, the late Joel Hueston, led to an enlightening conversation about IPAs and brewing as a whole.
Vinnie's generosity in sharing insights left us buzzing and filled with inspiration. We set out to improve our brews, not only as testament to our dedication to the craft, but also as a tribute to the camaraderie that exists within the craft brewing community.
After months of experimentation, tweaking, and refining, we released trial batches which would soon become our best-selling Papa Yo! And Hop Bazodee IPAs. With our 5th anniversary looming, we felt now was the time to attempt something a bit bolder.
Make Mine a Triple
It’s simple right? More hops, more alcohol, and boom, you’ve got a Triple IPA right? Well, unsurprisingly it takes more than that. With any great beer, the key is balance, but with a big beer, that balance is extra difficult to obtain.
Lets start with malt. You'll need a lot of it to get a 10.2% brew, but the more malt you add, the more residual sweetness you may get, resulting in a full and syrupy-sweet body. To counteract this, a generous dose of hops is necessary to balance the sweetness while delivering clean, hoppy aromas and flavors, without overpowering bitterness.
Finally, we’ve got alcohol. We don’t often think of alcohol as being a flavour, but in a 5% beer it’s there doing its thing, subtly in the background. Alcohol flavour is hard to describe, it’s a little hot, a little spicy, and it’s considered a flaw if you notice it in most beer styles. Simply, it’s the reason why non-alcoholic beer just doesn’t taste like beer. However, in high-strength beer, alcohol is part of the flavour profile, and one that the brewer needs to balance along with the flavours from hops, malt and yeast.
With these challenges in mind, we embarked on a journey to create Earthstrong, a Triple IPA that represents half a decade of growth and the promise of the years to come. Meticulously crafted, Earthstrong is a symphony of flavors and aromas, showcasing a blend of 10 distinctive hop varieties. These chosen hops deliver layers of citrusy, piney and herbal hoppy notes, paying homage to our journey and the roots of the West Coast American style IPA.
To kick the hoppiness up a notch, we double dry-hopped Earthstrong, adding hops in two stages post-fermentation. This process intensifies both aroma and flavor profiles without contributing significant bitterness. In total, over 7lbs of hops per barrel were used in crafting Earthstrong. To put that in perspective, that’s twice as much hops/bbl than Papa Yo! and over 25 times as much hops/bbl used in a typical mass-produced lager.
With hops reigning supreme, the malt profile assumes the role of a harmonious backdrop, counterbalancing without becoming cloyingly sweet. Here, the hops rightfully take center stage, and the result we think, speaks for itself.
A Toast to New Horizons
As we raise our glasses to toast these remarkable five years, we invite you to join us in celebrating the journey that has brought us to this point. Earthstrong Triple IPA isn't just a beer; it's a representation of the passion, dedication, and creativity that have fueled us since our inception. It's a testament to the friends we've made, the lessons we've learned, and the unending pursuit of crafting awesome beers that inspire.
Since releasing Earthstrong, we've also received some amazing news. Papa Yo! won a gold medal at the 2023 World Beer Awards in the American Style IPA category. A single award doesn't make a great beer, or brewery, but this is a sign that we are moving in the right direction.
Whether you’re a Tommy’s OG or new to our beer, we’d love to have you down at our Movietowne Brewpub or East Gates Taproom to give Earthstrong a try. Its available only on draft and for a limited time, and when it’s done….well, when a beer is this good it’s too difficult to say goodbye, so maybe we’ll brew it next year to celebrate another trip around the sun.