This past week saw the 2018 return of our dry-hopped Pilsner, Hoppelgänger (5.5%). This week we’ve decided to turn the volume WAY up on our classic Hoppelgänger recipe by releasing a brand new Imperial version of our beloved Pilsner, which clocks in at an ABV of 8.4% while remaining smooth, easy-drinking and light.
Imperial Lagers are not that commonly found, although they’re not unheard of in classical brewing traditions. Germany has famously produced some high-alcohol Lagers such as Doppelbocks. Our brewers stepped up to the challenge to push the Lager yeast to a reasonably higher alcohol level, all while still maintaining the same qualities that people expect from a Lager or a Pilsner. This Imperial Hoppelgänger manages to accomplish both, and even though it’s hopped similarly to an IPA, it keeps the bitterness to a minimum. “Perhaps it’s best to think of the Imperial Hoppelgänger as a further blending of styles, pointing in particular towards higher ABV North American beer,” says Bandit brewer Ben Morris.
The brewing process is not that different from our staple Hoppelgänger’s, but it’s adjusted for the higher gravity. Our fermentation profile and timing was adjusted to follow the new, higher values and we had to allocate more time for fermenting and lagering (the long-term cold storage process that makes the beer cleaner and clearer, further developing some of the beer’s flavour profiles). Most ingredients remain the same, but we switched the usual German Saphir and Saaz hops for New Zealand Motueka hops in order to give the beer tropical aromas of lychee, passionfruit, and lemongrass. All ingredients were doubled in order to release more sugars and therefore more alcohol. The whole process took just over an extra week longer to brew than the regular version since the additional sugars take longer to be turned into alcohol, as does the final “clean up” of the beer by the yeast. In general, lagering is more time consuming than other beers’ fermentation since the products produced by the yeast have to be eaten up in order to “clean” the beer before we can keg it.
This is only the first variation of Hoppelgänger that we’ve brewed, and you can expect a few more versions of this Pilsner in future months.
Bandit’s Imperial Hoppelgänger will be available on tap and in our bottle shop at 5 PM on Friday, February 9th.