After verifying the beer mineral analysis consistency of Tree House IPAs from batch-to-batch and brand-to-brand, the next step was to examine from brewery-to-brewery.
Trillium has the second-most beers in BeerAdvocate‘s Top Rated New England IPAs, trailing only Tree House. Fortunately, on a recent trip to Boston, I purchase cans of Double Dry Hopped Fort Point (my favorite) and Congress Street (their flagship IPA).
Unfortunately due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to travel to California to obtain a bottle of Russian River Pliny The Elder for mineral analysis. If any Californian’s reading this blog post are interested in helping me with the Pliny analysis, please reach out via email using the HELLO link at the top of this page.
Double Dry Hopped Fort Point was packaged on October 19, 2020 14:59:29 and Congress Street was packaged on October 27, 2020 10:19:35. Cans were shipped to Ward Laboratories on December 11, 2020 and reported on December 15, 2020.
WARD LAB W-501 BREWER’S TEST RESULTS
|Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm||2068||1993|
|Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm||3.45||3.32|
|Sodium, Na ppm||68||54|
|Potassium, K ppm||1453||1072|
|Calcium, Ca ppm||76.0||37.7|
|Magnesium, Mg ppm||176||113|
|Total Hardness, CaCo3 ppm||923||566|
|Nitrate, NO3 ppm*||91.7||36.3|
|Sulfate, SO4 ppm**||369||294|
|Chloride, Cl ppm||545||469|
|Carbonate, CO3 ppm||< 1.0||< 1.0|
|Bicarbonate, HCO3 ppm||465||509|
|Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 ppm||382||417|
|Total Phosphorus, P ppm||317.4||376.2|
|Total Iron, Fe ppm||0.14||0.08|
**multiplied by 3 to convert to SO4
To more easily compare the results from Trillium to (previously analyzed) Tree House, I graphed the pertinent results for Double Dry Hopped Fort Point (FP), Julius 2019 (J19), Julius 2020 (J20), Congress Street (CS), Green (G), Doppelgänger (D) and Haze (H). They are listed from lowest to highest alcohol content.
Despite having similar New England IPA portfolios, the mineral analyses of Trillium and Tree House beers are quite different. Most notably, the Trillium beers have higher pH, sodium, and chloride levels but lower sulfate levels than the Tree House beers.
The higher pH of Trillium beers may be attributed to dry hop rate and/or final gravity. Scott Janish has an entire blog post dedicated to pH in hoppy beers, but the key takeaway is that dry hops increase beer pH. Therefore, one explanation for the higher pH of Trillium beers may be due to higher dry hop rates.
Trillium sodium and chloride levels were 71% and 31% greater than Tree House, respectively. Brülosophy found that beer drinkers could distinguish between beers with various levels of sodium but were split on taste preference. They found the higher sodium beer increased hop aromatics and created sharper flavors. It’s very likely the higher sodium and chloride levels are due to using more NaCl while adjusting brewing liquor in an effort to increase chloride levels for a softer mouthfeel.
In contrast, Trillium sulfate levels were 20% lower than Tree House. In a third Brülosophy experiment, beer drinkers were able to distinguish between American IPAs with different chloride to sulfate ratios, but not New England IPAs. Drinkers observed the sulfate-rich beer had enhanced bitterness and hop character. Janish found a chloride to sulfate ratio of 2:3 resulted in softer mouthfeel in 25 homebrew batches, while Bissel Brothers and Great Notion prefer 2:1 ratios. It’s probable that Trillium targets a higher chloride to sulfate ratio and therefore sulfate levels are a bit lower than Tree House.
Despite testing just two Trillium beers (compared to five Tree House beers), I still found the results quite interesting. Once I am able to get my hands on Pliny The Elder, this years-long mineral analysis experiment can finally be put to bed!