Two Brothers Brewing, based in Warrenville, Illinois, released its yearly batch of Heavier Handed IPA late last month, so I’m reviewing it for this Monday’s Beer and Metal post. Heavier Handed, as the name implies, is a juiced-up version of the Heavy Handed IPA, and both beers are what tend to get referred to as “harvest ales” or “wet hop ales,” meaning they’re brewed with hops that are just picked and still green, not dried as usual.
Heavier Handed contains 8.1 percent alcohol, compared to 6.7 percent for its little brother, and it’s aged in what Two Brothers calls French oak foudres. A foudre, if the Internet is to be believed, is a great stonking barrel or vat of unspecified size, historically used in parts of France for aging beer or (more commonly) wine. The word apparently also means “lightning” in French, so go figure.
Perhaps counterintuitively, harvest ales can’t compete with the intense hop flavors found in especially aggressive beers made with the dried variety. I’ll make a semieducated guess and compare the use of fresh hops in brewing to the substitution of fresh herbs for dried in cooking—in my experience it can take a fistful of green leaves to do the job of a tablespoon of dried. Maybe using fresh hops requires a volume so much larger than normal that you reach a practical upper limit sooner. I’m sure any actual brewers reading could clear this up in the comments.