Boston has always been thought of as a place of home for me. After being born in Los Angeles, my father moved the family to the suburbs of Boston when I was two years old. With the birth of the “Hazy Nation” led by the Trillium Brewing Company, Boston is now a pilgrimage destination for lovers of beer of all styles and the original home of haze.
Through many beer events and industry connections, we knew we wanted to make a beer with Trillium, but the question was, “what style of beer would this be?”
— Jim Crooks, Master Blender
Using the Terroir Project as our vehicle, JC and I have been collaborating on using grape juice to complement the complex world of barrel-aged sour beer.
Back in 2017, we developed the concept for an experimental event where brewers must make a beer using locally-grown wine grapes from their respective regions. Barrelworks is centered in wine country making this an easy ask of ourselves, but for brewers from London, St. Louis and Boston where their wine-growing climates are much cooler, the challenge was unprecedented.
Thus, the Terroir Project was born.
For the past two years using our event the Terroir Project as our vehicle, Jean Claude Tetreault, co-owner and co-founder of Trillium, and I have been collaborating on using grape juice to complement the complex world of barrel-aged sour beer. We hope to bend the public’s perception of the kindship between beer and wine, which we believe is slowly happening.
“What about using white grape juice from the California Central Coast in a New England IPA?” Tetreault proposed.
It was more of a tactical strike than it was a collaboration. Our luck happened that our local grape season went late in 2019 and allowed for the harvest of some really lovely fruit around the middle of November. Both Clairette Blanc and Grenache Blanc grapes were harvested from vineyards in Santa Ynez and pressed to liberate wonderful tasting grape juice free from skins. The juice was secured in a well-purged tote and shipped across the U.S., where it landed a week later at Trillium Brewing Company along with two brand new Firestone Walker American Oak Union Barrels.
To pay homage to the Firestone Walker Union (which we ferment our DBA beer in) and the Burton Union before that, JC designed our collaboration beer to be a barrel-fermented Double IPA refermented in stainless with white grape juice. The processing of this beer would prove to be many firsts for Trillium. The entire conception would take three weeks, beginning with the racking of the base IPA at 24 hours into primary fermentation into 10 French oak puncheons, and two American oak union barrels. This primary fermentation in oak lasted four days and then was joined with the remaining batch of IPA that had fermented in stainless steel barrels. The grape juice was added to the tank sparking another fermentation that finished in just under one week. This batch of beer was then joined yet again with a fresh batch of fermented DIPA that received a massive Trillium dry-hopping treatment. Once cold stabilized, the beer was packaged kegs and canned.
Switchboard Operator was complete.
This Double IPA pours a soft orange color with an inviting heavy haze. A bouquet of tropical and citrus fruit immediately greets the nose. Fresh pineapple, orange juice, and passion fruit lead the way, with a mix of stone fruit and a bright white wine character washing across the back of the palate. A creamy mouthfeel, gentle carbonation, and crisp bitterness round out each sip.
Malt: Pilsner Malt, Flaked Wheat, C-15
Additional Ingredients: Clairette Blanc and Grenache Blanc wine grape juice.
If you are lucky enough to be able to make it out to one of Trillium’s three locations, we urge you to give it a try.