Homunculus, the newest addition to the Big Beer Series portfolio, is also the first beer to move up from our single-batch, draft-only Short Batch Series. Inspired by “Houblon Chouffe” from Belgium’s Brasserie d’Achouffe, our beer was first brewed in 2007 and was called “The Gnome.” This was a great name for an individual, draft-only release. Once the decision was made to scale-up to a Big Beer size, we decided to change the name in respect of Achouffe’s branding and image. We chose “Homunculus” not only because it’s loosely synonymous with “gnome,” but also because of the word’s absurdity.
So what is a Homunculus? The term, Latin for "little human,” shows up in disciplines as diverse as psychology, alchemy, and biology. As you can see from the label art, we were captivated by the biological roots of the term. Before lenses could be ground and microscopes could be built (circa 1600), medieval scientists constructed many theories to explain the origins of human life. “Preformationism,” widely accepted at the time, proposed that each new child grew from invisible, miniature versions of themselves (homunculi).
Enough genetics, let’s hear about the beer! Like the label says above, Homunculus is a hoppy, Belgian-style golden ale. A special yeast strain created a generous alcohol content of 9.9% a.b.v. The simple grain bill of 2-Row, Weyermann Carahell, and some cane sugar lends some sweetness, but also a lightness of body. Bravo hops are used exclusively at the beginning of the boil for a moderately aggressive 45 IBUs, while late boil additions of Sterling contribute a subtly spicy hop flavor. We’ve already got the makings of one tasty beverage, but Homunculus' real moxie comes from its pungently aromatic dry-hopping. We infused 150 barrels of beer (4650 gallons) with 176 pounds of Nugget hops and 264 pounds of Sterling hops. That's nearly 3 pounds of hops per barrel of beer!