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How the Craft Brew Alliance's Joe Casey Is Hopping Up Cider

Now that you've used Galaxy hops in both Widmer Brothers beers and Square Mile ciders, what Widmer beers would correspond well with Spur & Vine if people were thinking of giving one a shot based on the other?

Casey: We've used Galaxy in our Rotator IPA series before, but it wasn't the dominant hop in the blend. But we have Galaxy in our O'Ryely Rye IPA. We've also used not Galaxy hops, but Citra hops -- which are very similar from a sensory standpoint -- in our Citra summer seasonal (Citra Blonde). That, in fact, is one of the beers that people are mixing with the cider the most.

From Citra Blonde, we've learned some things about that particular hop and others that are similar to it. We've figured out how to use them on the cold side and in a dry hopping technique that really brings out all the flavor and aroma without all the bitterness and astringency that sometimes comes through.

I don't think it will be unexpected for us to play with hops for Square Mile in the same way we do for Widmer Brothers' Rotator series.

Your partners in Milton-Freewater take an active role in what you're producing, but have also blended other fruits into ciders of their own. Has there been any experimentation with adding other fruits into the blend of Square Mile?

Casey: There's pear juice in there now. That was part of the development process. We call it the blendback or the add back, which is toward the end of fermentation when we add a little bit of juice for sweetening. We looked at adding back just apple juice, we looked at adding back different kinds of apple, we looked at apple and pear -- and the ones that had a small amount of pear in the add back performed best from a sensory standpoint.

We haven't looked at anything beyond apple or pear at this point, but that seems pretty ripe ground for some sort of limited release in the future.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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