From the Beer Writer: About a year ago, a deafening buzz began to develop about a newly debuted hop varietal called Strata. Almost overnight, numerous beers began popping up incorporating this PNW botanical gem. Exhibiting a tapestry of fruity, foresty characteristics, Strata made for some stunning beers, even when filling out hop bills all by its lonesome. As often happens with suddenly en vogue ingredients, Strata hops were soon in scarce supply — gone, but certainly not forgotten. That sentiment was prominently felt on a local level by the team at Amplified Ale Works, who fell hard for Strata, so much that they blew through their initial supply, leaving them without their new favorite darling for a matter of months. Fortunately, they were able to score more just in time to craft a specialty offering for their seven-year anniversary: StrataBlaster. A massive triple IPA brewed with Northwest hops in a Northeastern fashion, it comes across as a take-no-prisoners single-hop brew. Substantial in its mouthfeel, with a notable sweetness common of this high-gravity style, it almost comes across as a cocktail thanks to huge tropical fruit flavors and aromatics, plus an earthy woodiness that, presented against all that mango, papaya, and passion fruit booziness, comes across almost like rum-tinged oak. It’s over the top and decadent, scribing a love letter to Amplified’s recently returned hop yard honey.
From the Brewer: “[Amplified owner] Alex Pierson and I ran across Strata hops a few years ago at the Craft Brewers Conference and really dug the varietal. We probably grabbed a Strata beer every time we passed a booth pouring one. Needless to say, we became obsessed with the hop and how to acquire it, and were able to secure a decent stash of it last year. The first time we brewed with it we wanted it to dominate, to really get an idea of Strata’s flavor profile. We weren’t confident enough to brew a single-hop beer, so it made it into our rotating hop XPA (extra pale ale) “Power Chord” where it was paired with Citra. Citra makes every hoppy thing better, and the result, not surprisingly, was awesome. That duo was ramped up to a hazy double IPA we dubbed “Stratacaster!” which was smacked with a five-pound-per-barrel dry hop of Strata. Stratacaster was easily our fastest selling beer of 2019 and we kept brewing it until we ran out of hops, which at that hopping rate, happened quite quickly. We were only able to make three batches of it, they each sold out in about three weeks, and it never saw the summer months. As soon as the hops were gone we hunted for more, but there would be no more until the 2019 crop. Alex and I went up to Portland this year to hand-select the lot from Indie Hops, and a couple weeks later we brought an end to our four-month Strata drought. When you haven’t seen a loved one for four months and get reunited, there is a revived, perhaps even overzealous enthusiasm. Restraint is thrown out the window. That leads us to Amplified’s seventh-anniversary release of StrataBlaster, a scaled up version of StrataCaster! It’s a tremendous, wall-shaking hazy triple IPA “balancing” 10.2% ABV (alcohol-by-volume) with a thick malt bill containing more than 30% oats and rye, and a triple dry-hop packing in seven-pounds-per-barrel of flavor that is reminiscent of what you’d experience if you were sipping on a smoothie at a juice bar next to a dispensary. We contracted more than double what we had last year, and our goal is to keep a Strata beer on as much as possible in 2020. The last kegs of Blaster are finishing up—again about three weeks in—but have no fear…StrataCaster! is in the tank and will be ready in early December.”—Jeff Campbell, Head Brewer, Amplified Ale Works