Stockade Brew Co – a new brewery, bar and tasting room – recently opened its doors in Marrickville, debuting with a range of unique hop-infused cocktails to supplement its beer selection.
The cocktail list at Stockade is not only inspired by hops – drawing on their flavour and aroma characteristics of citrus, pine and floral notes – but is made using them: raw spirits are infused with hops and hop pellets to create bespoke, hop-infused spirits.
“The idea is to incorporate the hops that we use in our beers into the cocktails,” Jonni Cocks, venue manager at Stockade, told BARS&clubs.
“After some experimentation we’ve decided to use hop pellets – ground up and compressed hops which almost look like rabbit food – and take the gin and vodka, wrap the hops up in a coffee filter, tie it all up with string and then it sits in there for about three days, infusing and taking on the colour of the hops.
“For our gin we’ve used El Dorado and Galaxy hops, and in the vodka we use a Mosaic hop, just using the coffee filter method. Eventually we’ll get into some bigger stuff because we’re getting our own still, so we’ll be able to undertake this process in the raw stages of making our own gin and vodkas, rather than infusing hops with the end product.”
For now, Manly Spirits are supplying the bar with the base spirit. After infusion, the two concoctions are used to create a ‘Mosaic Sour’ (Mosaic hop-infused vodka, lemon-grapefruit juice, a chickpea-based and “vegan friendly” egg white substitute, complemented with a strawberry and raspberry sherbet) and a ‘Galaxy & Tonic’ (Galaxy and El Dorado hop-infused gin, homemade “botanical” tonic, served with sugar-soaked dehydrated lemon).
“We also do a coffee liqueur for our espresso martinis, so that’s just a very simple recipe with a few secrets in there,” he says. “It’s a strong and boozy coffee liqueur, where we just add fresh espresso and make a reduction using our Old Money bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, reducing that to a syrup, adding a bit of sugar to bring out the sweetness. The idea is to impart the bourbon, oaky characters from the Old Money to enhance the espresso martini.”
Cocks also explains that they’re experimenting with vapour infusions using hops, to leave their flavour and aroma in the spirit without imparting any colour.
But, if hop-infusion sounds like something you might want to try in your own bar, Cocks also makes it clear that there’s been a lot of trial and error.
“We tested using two pellets to 150ml of spirit, the same with 350ml of spirit and then a whole litre,” he explains. “The first one was just too much hops, too much bitterness, and that’s the biggest thing to look out for.
“The pellets are also a compressed, ground up hops – so you can end up with a pellet with four hop flowers ground into it and another with 10 ground into it, they can vary widely… it’s all about choosing the right hop, and then using the right amount of that hop to avoid ruining it with too much bitterness.”
He’s also keen to highlight that the process of experimentation is an ongoing one.
“We’re still tweaking with things, working out the flavours and there’s been a lot of trial and error – a lot of different spirits and experiments and testing, but it’s been exciting and rewarding to do something that nobody else is doing.”