Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hop Tasting, Session One

Today with several other brewer and homebrewer types we had a "hop tasting". Basically, each of the following varieties of hops were dry hopped into a bottle of Coors Light for 5 days. Coors Light was used because it basically has very little other flavour (being the "coldest" beer available... and whats with that marketing crap anyway? Coldness isn't a property of the beer... its a property of the fridge its in. Guh). Of course this only gives the dry hopped flavour and aroma of the hops, but its still pretty interesting.
In this session we tried Czech Saaz, German Tettnanger, US Tettnang, German Tradition, German Hersbrucker, German Hallertauer T-45, New Zealand Organic Hallertauer, German Spalt, US Santium, German Northern Brewer, French Strisselspalt, US Ahtanum, US Glacier, US Amarillo, US Galena, US Chinook, and US Warrior.

I found that the traditional noble hop types (basically the first 9 or so in the list) had very tea-like characteristics, with spicy, lemony citrus, and sometimes mint. I want to make a pilsner with Hersbrucker from flavour & aroma hopping. It was a very nice hop. My favorite was probably amarillo, which I have never knowingly had before. It would make an excellent dry hop, its very grapefruity and strong. I was surprised by warrior hops, they are very high alpha acid (16%) but don't have the harshness and bad flavours associated with other high alpha hops. Warrior is slightly citrus with some tea and floral notes. It doesn't have a lot of flavour either... I believe I will be using these for bittering hops for many an ale in the future.

The bad hops... Chinook is horrible, its a high alpha hop, but has a harsh and somewhat metallic flavour. Maybe a lot of that would boil out if boiled for long enough, but I'm not going to take that chance. Galena was pretty bad too... one guy described the aroma as "new plastic garbage can". At best, it would be used for bittering... but not by me.

I was surprised to find that Saaz didn't seem to have as strong of a flavour or aroma as I thought it would have compared to the other noble hops. Although it is a famous hop, you really would have to use loads of it in any application, be it bittering, flavour or aroma.



grove said...

Brian, that's a really interesting experiment!

Did you dry hop with pellets or whole hops? And how much did you put into each bottle?

Your observations overlap surprisingly well with the ones I have made. Chinook is one really harsh hop. Never tried Galena, but now I at least won't fall for the temptation to try it. :)

headlessbob said...

We used pellet hops, and while I didn't prep the bottles myself, apparently 3 pellets were added to each.

Heh, yeah I was surprised buy the differences in even apparently similar hop types. We have another one planned next month which will cover traditional English hops and the US hops such as cascade, centennial, etc.

Thanks for the interest!

dirtymartini said...

give chinook another thought. many of the hops out there are truly for bittering purposes only. they arent meant to be dry hopped with...or at least not dry hopped by themselves. nuggets, galena and horizon can be the same way. they are really good hops for bittering purposes, but not hops you want to use for flavor or aroma.

Stephanie said...

this is interesting.. i have a few questions: was there a any sort of dominant difference in the noble hops? Spalt versus Hersbrucker? I think these are from the same region, is that correct?

bwestcott said...

Hm, it was so long ago I can hardly remember, and I can't seem to find the notes I took at the time. I remember that there were noticeable differences in the noble hops though.