Asked about digging into the Arches portfolio, Ramirez said it took him some time to begin “messing with the recipes,” while working with Arches co-founder and brewmaster Jamey Adams, who is a biochemist.
“When I came on here, there were obviously a lot of beers that we were doing, and a lot of brands that had their place, and there were certain brands that they just wanted to keep going,” he said. “I started by doing some of the things I wanted to do, like an IPA. Now I don’t think there’s a single beer that I haven’t tweaked, except for maybe Mexican Empire, which is a beer I didn’t really have to touch.”
Southside Grind, a caffeinated version of Southside Lager that is infused with organic whole bean coffee from Rev Coffee Roasters in Smyrna, is one of the first projects Ramirez took on.
“It’s dry-hopped with Mosaic, and it has this berry character,” he said. “I usually pick coffee beans that have kind of a blueberry or strawberry character. It’s really bright, and people trip out when they see it and smell it. Obviously, there’s a lot of caffeine in it, too.”
One of Ramirez’s most recent beers is a limited release Japanese-style rice lager called Yūrei, which is brewed with a big portion of flaked rice, and Grungeist hops, making it soft and slightly sweet, with stone fruit notes, and a crisp, dry finish.
I really loved Sprezzatura, which Ramirez described as an “unfiltered, unapologetic Italian-style Pilsner that packs a super crisp, dry finish and a beautiful golden yellow color.” It’s made with an exotic blend of Eraclea Pilsner malt from barley grown in the Adriatic coastal region of Italy, near Venice, and the recipe includes additions of Magnum, Tettnang and Saphir hops.
“I love talking to people about that beer, especially brewers,” Ramirez said. “Some people say it’s such a cool style, and other people say it’s made up. That it’s just a German Pilsner with Italian grains, and they dry-hopped it.”
Right now, though, Ramirez is excited by the quality of Michigan hops, which he’s been using in his IPAs.
“There’s something going on there that’s great,” he said. “The Chinook we’re getting from there is distinctly more tropical fruit with a little bit of pineapple. Even the Cascade has a grapefruit character with more juice and less rind.
“I’m more interested in beers with interesting hops, and using hops in different ways. I guess that’s why I get a reputation here as the IPA guy. But I’m more intrigued by the hop side of things than I am the style.”
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