Interview with Track 7 Brewing's Ryan Graham and a look at triple-IPA season (aka, you're not getting any Younger)

Track 7 brewer Ryan Graham moves barrels at the Curtis Park location.

I’m writing this post from San Francisco on the first day of Beer Week. In less than four hours, I’ll be at the S.F. Beer Week Opening Night Gala, hopefully sipping on some fun, surprising NorCal brew. Be jealous. Yes.

Today also marks the arrival of the most hyped beer in the world: Pliny the Younger. People fly from all over to taste this triple IPA at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. Apparently the line for Younger began forming last night, Thursday, at 6 p.m. That’s 17 hours in line for a beer. But hold the eye-rolling and judgment. Let people have their fun.

Younger kegs will be in Sacramento later this month, but in the meantime there are actually quite a few local triple IPAs debuting this month, too.

Knee Deep Brewing Co. brews IIIPAs year-round. Ditto Device Brewing Co. Berryessa’s Trendy the Triple IIIPA usually comes out this time of year.

And there’s also Track 7 Brewing Co.'s Motherland IIIPA, which is brewed twice a year and was tapped last Friday at the brewery and also at the Art of Beer festival.

Track 7 will be pouring at tonight’s SF Beer Week Gala, and also tomorrow, Saturday, at the big Bistro’s DIPA and IIIPA festival in Hayward. 

I met up with Track 7's head brewer Ryah Graham at Art of Beer for a quick chat about Motherland:

Nick Miller: So tell me about this beer. What should I be tasting?

Ryan Graham: So Motherland, we brew it without any crystal malt, so it’s all base malts. The sweetness that you get is actually alcohol sweetness. It’s slightly warming as it goes down. Lots of hop aroma. Some citrus, but then actually finishing with mint. If you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find mint in that beer.

So, why do you brew a seasonal triple IPA, and why now? 

The original came from our collaboration we did with Peter Hoey, for Rob Archie’s fifth anniversary over at Pangaea. It just kind of became popular enough that people wanted it more regularly, but we didn’t have enough hops to brew it more regularly, so we decided on twice a year.

Is February the de-facto triple IPA month or something?

That’s why we picked February, because of San Francisco Beer Week at The Bistro’s festival, the double-IPA and the triple-IPA showdown. That’s why we release it as we do, as fresh as possible going into that event. 

I know you’re not an IPA guy, but tell me what you like about these DIPA and IIIPA brews.

For me, the nicest thing about a big triple IPA is it just grabs every part of you. Your senses, your nose, your olifactory, your palate. Everything about it, it’s just all-enapsulating. I think that’s why Jeremy [Warren, of Knee Deep] kicked ass with Simtra early on, just finding a way to do [a IIIPA] and appeal to a broad market, but still keep it’s roots. 

I think the triple-IPA is going to continue to evolve, but as far as doing it, I just really do enjoy just sipping it. It has a soft spot in my heart, kind of like a single-malt whisky.

What makes Motherland stand out?

The cool thing about Motherland is we did try to evoke a global perspective about it. We used malts from three different continents. We used hops from three different continents. It was really designed to be a global, all-encompassing beer. Like really going back to what the essence of pangaea was. One continent, one people, just nothing but love. … YOu got some Rob Archie coming out in me now.

Nothing but love! Tell me about the brewing process.

We did two dry-hops on it, a regular standard dry hop, but then we do one lagered dry hop, one at cold lagering temperature. I think it helps, giving it that extra week, allow the alcohol to mellow a little bit. And, also, that extra time with a cold hop, it takes longer for those beta acids to absorb into the beer, it gives it a different nuance. It’s a technique we learned from Peter [Hoey], and he’s Sacramento’s godfather of brewing.

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.