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Present Time: A Refresh of the Past

“Lórien came onto our radar because of the success of the Indie breeding program (we have been amazingly impressed with Strata) but also because we wanted to honor a lot of the tradition that goes into the Bierstadt beers,” states Joyce. “On paper, Lórien has a noble breeding pedigree and brewing metrics very similar to the noble hops that are used to make the beers produced by Bierstadt.”

In 2022, Joyce joined the Bierstadt brew team, which has allowed him to brew world-class lagers employing the traditional techniques of decoction and floatation. This new role has expanded his view of both the process and the ingredients used to create each batch of beer. Schmidt has found a new role as Creative Director for Westbound & Down Brewing Co. This hybrid of working in roles outside of Amalgam allows each to continue to discover new ideas and perspectives — some of which are applied to new Amalgam creations, which at the moment release about every eight weeks.

Our collab beer was a 5.0% ABV Contemporary American-Style Pils called Present Time featuring 100% Lórien — “an exploration of how this new school American-grown hop differentiates itself from its European noble ancestors.” Here’s what they learned:

Q – You brewed Present Time in a very traditional fashion, and therefore are able to compare it to some of the other great lager beers that you brew at Bierstadt. How does Lórien compare in its presentation in this format relative to more classic noble varieties? … in terms of the hop “cleanliness,” did it allow you to get the malt and fermentation profile that you were after?

A – “Process-wise, Present Time emulated a lot of the brewday techniques that are used to make Bierstadt’s lagers, most notably, decoction and floatation. To best showcase Lórien, we increased the total hot-side hop load as compared to more classic examples. That being said, we experienced a “punchier” noble-like hop with citric lemon-zest notes, white tea, flowers and slightly under ripe cantaloupe melon. As the beer aged and lagered, there was a brief moment in time where there was a very distinctly “American” hop characteristic — almost cannabis like. It’s tough to say if the more elevated hop expression (as compared to traditional noble hops) was because of the increased hopping rate or the actual hop itself — likely a combination of the two. As for malt, we used 100% French Pils from Malteurop (kudos to another great industry friend, Dustin Craft) which built a nice fruitier malt canvas that we thought would showcase Lórien nicely. Fermentation-wise, we fermented the beer low and slow with 3470 yeast and lagered for 8 weeks. Our goal in pils style beers is to have very little fermentation character (with the exception of a small amount of complimentary sulfur that exists in our favorite examples of Pils brewed in the same tradition).”

"The bitterness contributed from the Lórien in the boil additions was very soft and pleasant — very much like traditional noble cultivars. It's inspiring that something new can be birthed out of tradition and provide a new twist on a classic."


Q – Can you talk about the aroma profile of Present Time? How does it stand up in the greater realm of lagers that have become increasingly popular in recent times?

A – “The most prevalent and memorable aromas from the beer were Meyer lemon zest and honeysuckle. It was a really nice marriage of fruity and floral in an intellectual way. Lórien presented with the refined pleasantness of a noble variety with a modern flare.”

Q – In terms of the hop’s finish on your palate when you’re drinking the beer, what can you tell us about the flavor profile? Do you feel it’s a catchy profile for beer lovers? Is it a desirable profile all the way through a half liter (or liter!)?

A – “As mentioned in the aroma, the flavor was very refined and pleasant; mostly presenting as soft and citric. It was memorable in that it was unmemorable — like a dream that you remember being positive but don’t remember the details. All of my favorite lager style beers have immense drinkability. For me, Present Time was often the accessory to a separate positive conversation, activity or interaction. Lórien is there, but in such a complimentary way that it just integrates with the present moment. And that’s how the name was born.”

Q – What has consumer response been in general? Any unique insights here?

A – “Consumer response was very positive. In general our audience is very excited for our new beer releases, and I think expectations were very high as this was our first traditional-inspired lager that we brewed on the Bierstadt kit. I think my favorite customer feedback was ‘Present Time is a 4-pack serving size.’”

Q – Taken from the Amalgam website: “The beer produced by Amalgam is made with the objective to learn from process and tap into inspirations from food, farming, wine, beer, etc.” With respect to brewing Present Time, is there anything in particular that you felt you learned? Or any inspiration that you took away from the ingredients?

A – “I think the biggest take-away from a learning perspective was that the bitterness contributed from the Lórien in the boil additions was very soft and pleasant — very much like traditional noble cultivars. With an enormous excess of hops in inventory, the American hop industry is rapidly changing. For the first time in my brewing career I have heard “alpha per acre” as a metric thrown around — a lot of different interpretations as to what the next hop landscape will look like in the upcoming years, but it’s comforting to know there is a noble hop alternative grown in America that was bred and evaluated with the constraints and challenges of today’s agronomics. As imported land race noble varieties continue to drop in alpha, their sustainability and longevity has to come into question from both a brewer and a grower’s perspective. It’s inspiring that something new can be birthed out of tradition and provide a new twist on a classic.”

From the hop breeders perspective, Present Time was truly a beautiful art form that we were exceedingly happy to consume! The thoughtful pair behind Amalgam brought Lórien to life in a manner that we had envisioned for this hop, and we feel the craft beer consumer continues to thirst for new expressions of this ages-old art form. In the case of Present Time, we feel it’s a lovely “marriage of old-world and traditional brewing processes with new ingredients” — Joyce’s words when we asked him what was most intriguing to him about brewing with Lórien.

“For us, the ability to perform brewhouse processes that have never been available to us has reminded us why we love the craft industry — there is always an opportunity to learn something new,” explains Joyce. “Being able to brew our beers at Bierstadt has allowed us to completely rethink the way we design beers and the types and styles of raw ingredients that we want to use. Each batch is a reflection of our current interests and excitements. We’ve [also] been really inspired by new hop cultivars and advanced hop products and how we can use those ingredients in conjunction with our processes to create new and unique sensory experiences for our customers.”