Surly’s Taylor and Travis beers use same base, different yeasts

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Surly Brewing is hoping to capitalize on the Taylor Swift/Travis Kelce mania with a new set of taproom-only experimental IPAs.

The beers, created using the same, brand-new hop from Hopsteiner in Yakima, Wash., are made using two different yeast strains. The first was made using Surly’s house yeast, and the other with Omega’s Cosmic Punch thiolized yeast.

The beers came first, said brewer Ben Smith, and the names — the beer using the house yeast is called Taylor and the beer using the thiolized yeast is called Travis — came second.

“It was a fun experiment,” Smith said. “Obviously the marketing department had a lot of fun coming up with the names, but the experiment came from the opportunity to try out a brand-new hop.”

Smith and the other Surly brewers noticed that the hop, which is so new it doesn’t yet have a name (it’s just #16660 at this point), has a high thiols potential. For those who aren’t beer nerds, thiols are compounds in hops that are very aromatic. This particular hop potentially has a lot of tropical fruit potential, but often it can be difficult to access the compounds that create those scents.

In recent years, new yeast strains have been developed that help release those aromas. Smith and his team wanted to play around with one of those new yeasts, Omega’s Cosmic Punch. So the same batch of beer was split into two, and the different yeasts were applied to each half of the batch.

Smith said he’s pleased with the results. Travis is more citrusy (grapefruit, lemon and pineapple) and Taylor’s version (a reference to Swift’s re-recordings of her early catalog) has orange, malty aromatics.

“Having them side by side, it is really eye-opening to see what the yeast you’re using can do,” Smith said.

And hopefully, the Surly team admitted in a social media post, it’ll bring Swifties into the taproom during what is usually a slow month for breweries.

Surly Brewing Company: 520 Malcolm Ave. S.E., Minneapolis; 763-999-4040;

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