For Hops & Pie co-owner Drew Watson, the trickiest part about changing up his popular pizza joint's house IPA wasn't saying goodbye to longtime provider Strange Craft Beer Company: "I love those guys. We still have a great relationship."
Rather, it was making sure that the new beer, brewed by Station 26, didn't change the flavor of Watson's pizza crust or his signature, award-winning IPA Mac and Cheese.
"That was the biggest concern. since we use the beer in a lot of things," Watson says. "We brewed a few batches with Station 26 and, with a few minor tweaks, we got one that didn't alter the taste of the dough but still had more citrus-y hop flavor."
Although it has been serving the new house beer, called H26P, for two weeks, Hops & Pie will team up with the brewery on September 6, at Station 26, for a release party.
Strange owner Tim Myers had been making Hops & Pie.P.A., which the restaurant served on tap and used as an ingredient in several recipes, for about four years. But Watson says customers were asking for a bigger, more West-Coast style IPA.
"Tim has been very generous with his tank space over the years. But he can make much more money selling pints over the bar at Strange," Watson explains. "So we sat down over a beer like we've done many times. I didn't want to ask him to redo the recipe and to continue to give us that tank space."
Watson has also known Station 26 owner Justin Baccary for several years, first because Baccary was a Hops & Pie neighbor and customer. Then late last year, Baccary opened Station 26 in North Park Hill -- where he found rapid success.
"Their beer is fantastic, and we've gotten a great response," Watson says, adding that he has been going through about four kegs of the IPA per week, two of which he serves on tap and two of which he uses to cook with.
The H26P release party runs from 1 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 6, at Station 26. Hops & Pie will be on hand grilling pizzas with their mobile unit, while the Bumblebee Food Truck will be selling desserts. Special firkins of the beer will be tapped at 2 and 4 p.m., there will be live music at 7 p.m. and a shwag raffle at 8 p.m.
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