On the Drink Beer, Think Beer with John Holl podcast this week, Andrew Witchey the founder and brewer of Dancing Gnome Brewery in Pittsburgh talked about hop aroma and his goals for brewing Lustra, the brewery’s pale ale.

Lustra accounts for 35 percent of the brewery’s portfolio, he says. As such making sure it’s always in stock and tasting to brewer specs is critically important.

Witchey says that each year at hop selection in the Pacific Northwest he heads into rubbings with very particular ideas in mind for what he wants aroma-wise from the Amarillo and Citra that comprise the beer’s hop bill.

The Conversation

John Holl: What are you looking for when it comes to Amarillo?

Andrew Witchey: “Super bright, vibrant orange is what I want out of it, like tangerine as heck. Just all citrus that runs the gamut. Anytime we’ve done selection on Amarillo you’ll get a cut that is so earthy and herbal. And then you’ll get one that’s in the middle with some citrus tones. Then you’ll get one and it’s an absolute blast of citrus. And like that’s what I like.

I just think it works. With the combo [of Amarillo and Citra] it’s not overwhelming. It’s not too one dimensional but it’s also not too multi-dimensional that you’re like “oh my gosh this is blowing my mind.”

I think it’s just a solid beer that you can say “wow, this is really good” and then also just forget about and drink pint after pint.   

Dancing Gnome Lustra Pale Ale. Photo by John Holl

John Holl: For 35 percent of your portfolio, though, and for how much Amarillo is in demand, are you able to select enough lots? Is there enough of what you want how you want it?

Andrew Witchey: It happens every once in a while if, I don’t know, something happens with ordering or whatever. Then I need to like grab a box off a friend somewhere. Then every once in a while, you’ll get a crop that you can notice a difference.

If I were a national brand would be concerned about it, but this is an agricultural product, and we are a small brewery. So, the consumer wouldn’t recognize it nearly as much as we do unless this is the beer they drank exclusively.

There is always going to be a little bit of variation just by default of not having the lab components or blending components that a huge brewery would have.

Listen to Drink Beer, Think Beer

Listen to the whole conversation on your podcast platform of choice. Download via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or from the Beer Edge website.

This transcript was condensed and edited for clarity.

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John Holl is the editor of All About Beer Magazine.