Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
Hoppy Days Are Here Again 
June 2013
Volume 2 Issue 13 
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,


Besides the occasional autograph, customers often ask me about the newest, hoppiest beers out on the market. I would be slacking in my duties as your leader of lupulin libations if I did not honor these requests. Therefore, in this edition of the Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter we'll feature some amazing brews that will please not only the hop heads of the world, but also fans of craft beer in general. The beers may be bitter, but they'll leave you feeling sweet.




Dan Downes
Southern Tier 2x Steam
Victory Headwaters Pale Ale
Three Floyds Blackheart
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Now that's dedication...or obsession. You decide. (Picture via porknwhiskey.com)
Southern Tier 2x Steam 


The first beer on the list is in a league of its own. We've dicussed the California Common (aka "steam beer") in the past, but here's a quick refresher. Back before commercial refrigeration, it was difficult to ferment beers at the lower temperatures necessary for lagers. As a result, brewers used shallow open fermenters so the air would cool the wort faster. They ended up using a lager yeast (normally activated at 45-50�F) and fermented it at a higher than average temperature (typically 58-68�F).
A unique style to begin with, Southern Tier out of Lakewood, New York ups the ante even further with their 2x Steam. Much like their 2x Stout or IPA, they take the normal ingredients and double it. Clocking in at 8% ABV, you'll be surprised at how mildly this beer exerts itself. A deep, golden color, honey and mint aromas shine through. The hops are subtle, but firm. Sweet up front, light tangerine notes blend among earthy hop profiles. One of a kind, Southern Tier doubles your fun way better than Doublemint gum ever could hope.
Citra Hops

Citra hops = the new black (via blog.seattlepi.com)
Much like the fashion world, certain hop strains become en vogue from time to time. That's right, just how cropped tops and white pumps are the new trends of 2013, Citra hops are a big deal now. A proprietary hop, its limited nature makes it a darling in the brewing world.  A blend of US, English and a few other varieties, this single hop strain has slowly taken the beer world by storm.    
Headwaters Pale Ale 

The Headwaters Pale Ale from Victory Brewing Company utilizes this in demand hop strain. Originally devised as their anniversary beer, Headwaters draws its inspiration from one of the unsung heroes of our favorite fermented drink -- water. This brew sources its water from the East branch of the Brandywine Creek just over 12 miles away from the brewery. To put that in perspective, that's almost the distance from Ray's to the Summerfest grounds!

Light copper in color, this beer showcases the Citra hop incredibly.
Known for its tropical fruit characteristics, these elements burst through along with citrus and a slight piney-ness. Where some pale ales focus too much on the hop attributes, this beer represents the balance indicative of the style. Grapefruit, lemon zest and grassiness come through initially. The bready malt aspects show up at the end, though, to round out the flavors. Animal prints are soooo in right now, and so is this beer. Pick one up and find out why!
Three Floyds Blackheart 



From American Pale Ale we shift to the English IPA. The basis for the style that has taken the craft beer world by storm, English India Pale Ales differs quite a bit from its more familiar American counterpart. How do the two differ? Simply put, English IPAs utilize English hops and malts while American IPAs focus on American ingredients. Still confused? Alright, I'll explain further. American IPAs place hops at the forefront and usually the emphasize bold, citrusy components. English India Pale Ales, however, have a greater emphasis on the malt. English hops shun the big citrus components of their American cousins and exert floral, grassy and/or woody characteristics.


There are lots of Great English IPAs out there, but since the 4th of July is around the corner, I would never dream of being called a loyalist and decided to pick Three Floyds' interpretation. Named Blackheart in honor of their friends from Blackheart Tattoo in San Francisco, you might enjoy this beer enough to get some 3 Floyds ink of your own. Hazy with a dark orange shade, floral hops combine with caramel malt sweetness. As mentioned previously, Blackheart pushes the biscuity malt to the fore. Representative of the historic journey of the beer barrels from England to the British Raj, a mild oak aging presents an additional layer of complexity. If you don't consider yourself an "IPA person," gives this beer a try. If you do consider yourself an IPA connoisseur, try this to expand your appreciation of history. It's way more fun than reading a book. 

Dry Hopping

Simply adding hops to your beer is not enough. When you put them in is most important. When you add them early in the brewing process, the boiling water extracts the alpha acids contained in the hops. These alpha acids impart the bitter flavor we often associate with hop heavy beers. Dry hopping, on the other hand, refers to the addition of whole cone hops late in the fermentation cycle. The lower temperature adds the fragile aromatic components that get killed off in the boiling process. Depending on the beer, the hops will sit in there for a few days or as long as a few weeks. Regardless of how long they sit there, they'll contribute bright citrusy and grassy aromas without adding any more bitterness.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo


sierranevada. com

One of the beers that showcases the benefits of dry hopping is Sierra Nevada's Torpedo. Released in 2009, it was their first new year-round release in over 28 years! Normally the process involves throwing a nylon bag filled with hops into the fermentation tank (think of it as a giant hop tea bag). As they did this over the years they found that the center of the bag would be dry, meaning that the hops there would never come into contact with the beer. Well that was certainly unacceptable, so they developed the Hop Torpedo (pictured here). This device has ensured that all the desired oils come through.  


A dark orange color, this beer bursts with the hop aromas you'd expect from the IPA R&D laboratory. Pine, orange zest and resin attack right away. Once the hop attributes fade, caramel and slight honey tones will come through as well. In a style that eschews balance, malt and hops play off each other well. The strongest beer among those that we've discussed, Torpedo stands as a testament to one of the elite American craft breweries out there. 

Save 10%
Receive 10% of all beers featured in Volume 2 Issue 13 of the Ray's craft beer newsletter. Thus, it is limited to Southern Tier 2x Steam, Victory Headwaters Pale Ale, Three Floyds Blackheart and Sierra Nevada's Torpedo. No limit. Not redeemable with any other special offers. 


Offer Expires: Sunday June 30th at 5:00pm
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

Lastly, for up to the minute beer arrivals and release information, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We have also added lots of great craft beer events (in addition to excellent wine and spirit ones) in our upstairs tasting room. A full list can be found here

Dan & the gang at Ray's

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