With the decline in honeybees, there aren’t enough pollinators to go around. Solitary bees–like mason bees and leafcutter bees–have proven the only commercially viable alternative to date, but that hasn’t stopped researchers from pursuing some … creative alternatives. In 2020, a Japanese team showed that bubbles could be used to deliver pollen to a flower! They envision a fleet of robotic drones swarming across an orchard, trailing a cloud of highly engineered bubbles to help the trees produce fruit.
Our favorite flower doesn’t require pollination for a healthy crop, but bubbles are a great way to deliver hops to your senses! Much of the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation remains dissolved in the beer until it is poured, when the agitation knocks it out of solution and it bubbles to the surface. As it does, it carries with it the aromatic esters, terpenes, and thiols extracted from the hop flower during dry hopping. The foam at the top of your glass is a matrix of these concentrated aroma bubbles waiting for you to take a sip so they can burst their hoppy payload across the olfactory receptors in your mouth.
This beer is a celebration of bubbles, a veritable bubble bath for the senses. We load it up with Idaho 7, Mosaic, and Ekuanot hops to maximize the citrus/tropical/pine/berry character of American hops, but the secret ingredient is our “thiolized” yeast.
Pollen Bubbles uses a new yeast strain that release thiols—a class of sulfur-containing aroma compounds responsible for tropical fruit aromas in beer—from their precursors found in wort. There are hundreds of times more precursors available to the yeast than there are free thiols in a typical beer, so the potential for increased tropical aroma is literally off the charts. We used this yeast in conjunction with ingredients high in thiol precursors to try to maximize the amount of that tropical aroma we packed into the bubbles.
The finished beer is light bodied, with a subtle silkiness and a full and frothy head, bursting with an impossibly powerful tropical aroma, and a dry, crisp finish. Think passionfruit, grapefruit, with a touch of guava supported by more of the traditional grapefruit, pine, and citrus as well.
In short, we used all the scientific tricks in our arsenal to get as much of our fruity hops into the bubbles as possible. Bubbles may not replace bees in the orchard, but they sure are a delicious part of this beer!