Those of us who brew, serve, and enjoy beer in Virginia know the luxury of endless options, with 2.7 craft breweries per capita. That number doesn’t even include macrobreweries, not to mention the unpicked bounty produced by the Commonwealth’s homebrewers.
Each summer Starr Hill Brewery hosts its IPA JamBEERee Homebrew Competition in search of the latest and greatest in IPA recipes and brewing skill. The Competition provides an avenue to taste the freshest and most unique beer recipes, insofar as they are unburdened by sales or ratings. The competition is judged by Starr Hill’s brewing team, some of whom are former or current homebrewers.
This year’s Gold Medal winner was Rodger Thurlow’s NE-Style IPA, Hop’Easter. The Competition received over 50 admissions, but Rodger’s recipe for this buzzworthy style took 1st Place. A practiced homebrewer, Thurlow also earned gold at the Blacksburg Brew Do Homebrewing Competition in early October.
Thurlow and friend Jamie Fontaine ventured from Roanoke to Starr Hill’s Crozet facilities to brew his recipe on the large-scale with help from the brewery’s most tenured brewer, Timmy Green. “We look forward to these special visits with homebrewers; it’s [Starr Hill’s] honor to work with and provide support to such a robust community,” says Green.
The secret to Thurlow’s recipe, and signature of the NE-Style IPAs sweeping craft beer, is massive amounts of dry-hopping before fermentation, which accentuates hop aroma and flavor without adding bitterness. The result is Hop’Easter: a hazy, juicy IPA loaded with tropical fruit aroma like pineapple, mango, and passion fruit.
Those interested in being positively blasted with pure, hop flavor can taste Hop’Easter IPA now on draft in either the Crozet Tap Room or Roanoke Pilot Brewery & Side Stage. Who knows, craft beer drinkers in the Star City may even run into master homebrewer Rodger Thurlow himself.
Should you be so lucky, be sure to ask this brewer on the rise what’s next!