Hermitage Brewing: Now in Edible Silicon Valley

Hermitage Brewing is one of those “under the radar” breweries that Silicon Valley beer drinkers have plenty to be thankful for with their experimental single hop IPA series and some really wonderful barrel aged sour ales.  Their Stouts, Lagers, Porters, and other brews are all pretty solid for good measure.  They opened the first tap room in San Jose in the summer 2013. While they didn’t have high expectations for it at the time, they discovered people would venture into the industrial region just south of downtown to enjoy local brews, paving the way for other breweries that followed. Today, this 5 square mile area is home to four additional brewery tap rooms.

You can read about this and other Hermitage matters in the story I wrote in the Fall Edition of Edible Silicon Valley which you can find right here:  Master Brew Revival: Hermitage Brewing

Brewmaster Greg Filippi on Hermitage Brewing’s Single Hop IPA Series and the release of "El Dorado"

Bottling El Dorado Single Hop at Hermitage Brewing
(Photo from Hermitage Brewing)

Leave it to Hermitage Brewing to turn an esoteric brewing experiment into a series of great tasting beers.

Virtually all IPA’s are brewed with a blend of different hop varietals.  Each hop varietal has its own unique flavor profile, and when blended together, create a deep and unique flavor profile one appreciates in a good IPA.  Brewers sometimes brew test batches of beers using a single hop to better understand what flavor components it brings to the overall blend.  But rarely are these experimental beers intended for general consumption.

While other breweries like Oregon’s Ninkasi and Maryland’s Flying Dog have released single hop IPA’s, Hermitage may be the only brewery in the United States to establish a series of single hop IPA’s as part of their regular beer line-up since the series started two years ago.  Each beer in Hermitage’s Single Hop Series is made with the same composition of grains using identical steps in the brewing process.  The only thing different with each beer is the hops.

“I honestly don’t know why we’ve succeeded,” admits Hermitage Brewmaster Greg Filippi when asked how Hermitage succeeds where most breweries won’t even go.  “The first couple beers were Columbus Hops and then Amarillo Hops, and they didn’t sell too well.  But then we released Citra Hop and things really took off.”  Citra Hop IPA took gold in both the 2011 and 2012 California Craft Brew Competition and is now a year around fixture in Hermitage’s line-up.

I think Greg Filippi is a bit too modest.  Hermitage succeeds with their Single Hop Series because they choose hop varieties in the series with great floral and fruit-like qualities like Citra and Galaxy. These IPA’s are pretty dry, and brewed with a lot of late hop additions to the boil to create a wonderful aromas and a freshness to the beer so the intense hop flavors sing.

This is true of their latest addition to the Single Hop Series, El Dorado.  “I’ve been trying to get El Dorado hops since 2010,” remarked Greg Filippi.  As a newly cultivated hop strain, it was only available from a single farm in the Washington State’s Yakima until last year, when two additional farms started growing it.  Filippi visited farm where El Dorado was originally cultivated and finally got his hands on 100 lbs of the hops, enough to make a 25 barrel batch of IPA.   “El Dorado gets its name from the lost city of gold, because the flowers contain so many essential oils and resin that your hands quickly turn yellow handling them, even for a short time.   The hops have a strong tropical fruit aroma like pineapple and mango, with a noticeable underpinning of resinous pine.”

Hermitage sent me a bottle of El Dorado Single Hop IPA to try so I was able to experience it for myself.   There’s a noticeable smooth resinous undertone to the brew.   As it warmed up, an elusive fruity component emerges that tastes a bit like watermelon.  The El Dorado hops work well on their own, but I could also see this hop providing unique depth to a more traditional hop blend.

Not only will this beer let you experience the latest in the continual experimentation of brewers and hop growers, it’s pretty tasty in it’s own right!

El Dorado Single Hop, at the far left, taking its place in the Hermitage Single Hop Line-up
(Photo from Hermitage Brewing)