Craft Beer of the Week

KiloHop IPA Is SanTan Brewing Company's Best Beer

It is the opinion of this blog that measuring weight in pounds is silly. The unit is severely outdated — the Avoirdupois pound, the version of a pound we utilize in the U.S., first went into use in the 14th Century — and the units that make it up are ridiculous and incoherent. One pound is equivalent to 16 ounces, and one ounce equals 437.5 grains (literally, the weight of a single grain of barley). Even the pound’s abbreviation, lb, is confusingly based on the Latin word libra, which means balance or scales and has some far-off connection to the pound we guess, but still: silly.

The U.S., Burma, and Liberia are the only three nations in the world that haven’t adopted the International System of Units. Nice as it is to be grouped alongside those bastions of civilized thought, it’s time our country went metric. You can start your personal conversion with the kilogram, which is equivalent to exactly 2.20462 pounds. This is an important mass to remember, as it’s the amount of hops that went into each and every barrel of SanTan Brewing Co.’s newest specialty release, KiloHop.

This new imperial IPA, according to head brewer Gabe Wilson, is based on a beer called Big DIPA that premiered at the SanTan brewpub in Summer 2013. Brewed with close to two pounds per barrel of a hop blend called Falconer’s Flight, the beer was popular enough, but SanTan’s brewmaster, Anthony Canecchia, had bigger plans for it.

“Anthony had always talked about wanting to use the name KiloHop for a beer and to make it with a whole kilo of hops,” Wilson says. “We took Big DIPA’s grain recipe, tweaked it a bit, bumped up the hop bill to 2.2 pounds per barrel, and there we had it.”

Every ounce of those 2.2 pounds is a variety of hop known as Citra, prized among brewers for its high bittering potential and unique aroma blend that recalls strong citrus notes as well as lychee, melon, and musky tropical fruits. Wilson says the hops are added to the beer at four different stages of the brewing process, with the largest portions going in at the beginning of the boil (for bitterness) and during fermentation (for aroma).

Also added to the beer: honey from Crockett Honey Co., made by Mesquite tree-loving bees right here in Phoenix.

“Personally,” Wilson says, “I’m not a fan of honey by itself. I worked as a busser years ago and spent way too much time cleaning honey off tables. But added during the boil, a majority of the honey flavor ferments out, and you get this really nice, light floral quality.”

Indeed you do. Pour KiloHop into a snifter and the charming copper liquid emits a resinous aroma blending grass, grapefruit, pineapple, coconut, and caramelized sugar. Notes of honey, toasted crackers, and rock candy merge in a sticky sweetness that proves a worthy foil for the hops’ bitter grapefruit peel. The body is a soft, buttery medium; the carbonation gentle and peppery; the 9.8 percent alcohol content conspicuously inconspicuous. It’s easily SanTan’s best beer and one of the top IPAs produced by any Arizona brewer.

KiloHop first appeared last year, but the batch was small — 12 barrels, or just 24 kegs. This year, 45 barrels’ worth of the Citra-hopped double IPA will hit the Valley in kegs as well as 16-ounce cans, but even that isn’t much and will go quickly.

“So get it while you can,” Wilson says, and get to learning metric, we say. You’ll become a more enlightened person either way. 

Zach Fowle is a BJCP-recognized beer judge and a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.
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Zach Fowle
Contact: Zach Fowle