Hop fans, ever heard of this?!
There is a bar chain here in the Atlanta area named Summit's Wayside Tavern. They have adopted a process developed by Dogfish Head brewery in Delaware called "Randall". A "Randall" is a three-foot long, cylinder/filter packed with a half a pound of whole-leaf hops that is affixed to a beer line leading out of a keg. As the beer is poured, it flows through the Randall, thus filtering the beer through fresh hops before serving; in essence, "dry hopping" the beer to enhance and change the flavor. Has anyone ever done this before? It seems like a great idea. I've not yet made it over to the bar for one of these (they only do it on Monday) but it sounds great!
It can be great depending on the beer and the hops, but it also can be a horrible sticky mess. I've had DFH 60 and 90 min. out the randall and since I'm no fan of those beers, I was not a fan of the result. Dried apricots and hops in the Randall with their apricot beer was a great idea, but again the result was less than positive for me.
One thing about the Randall is that the beer comes foams up when it hits the hops and comes out almost flat, but given the right beer and hops, you can look past those negatives. Also you need a beer that is more than 6% abv in order for the alcohol to strip the hops of their goodness - so higher abv beers work best.
I had Rogue Brutal Bitter through Rogue's Hopulator full of Amarillo hops in Portland and I was in heaven - great amarillo aroma and flavor - even though it was kinda flat. Kind of like hop tea, but if you really love hops, it doesn't matter.
I love Russian Rivers answer to DFH's gimmick. They have Pliney t-shirts that say "no randall required".
Good point about the foam and the ABV. You kind of took the wind out of my sails there but hey, I'm glad for the honest answer; thanks! ;-) I read they did Budweiser a few weeks ago and it must've been pretty lousy given the fact that I can imagine it loses carbonation quickly, and it's certainly not above 6%. You say 60 & 90 minutes, does this mean it's been "brewing" in the hops for that long?
I didn't have a good experience with the randall. One time the bar had Stone Ruination on the randall and another had the DFH 90 min. Given the extreme hopppy nature of these beers, the only difference I could pick up was that it was flat. I also saw the randall in a bar that is notorious for having unclean lines so I was a little suspicious of how long the hops had been "stewing" so I passed. I'd give it another shot though when the opportunity comes around.
As for the 60 & 90 mins. DFH brews these (and the 120min.) with a continuous addition of hops for the entire boil time.
I went for the first one and wasn't that impressed. That said, they did some poor pairings as far as beer and hop for the first couple. They are occasionally doing firkins of cask ale on Fridays (tomorrow I think it's Rogue Dead Guy). That interests me much more.
Otherwise, I've been going to Summits for years and years, and I'm kind of over it except for the infrequent visit. Despite the selection, the beers are expensive. And the food isn't cheap either, especially for pub grub. However, they do very good wings. But having the wife command me to shower to de-smokify isn't worth it.
I'd generally rather hit 5 Seasons for a beer.
as LStaff pointed out in his response, the pairing really needs to be spot-on flavorwise, and if you don't like the beer to start, this isn't going to make you like it that much more.
my best experience with randall was dogfish head's raspberry beer (first batch, before the bottled version, much less sweet) run through crushed DE raspberries. i think they tried to mimic this by amping it up with sweetness and fruit juice in the bottle and failed miserably.