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Maybe we need a hop flavor/aroma wheel

It was probably a half dozen years ago and our daughter, Sierra, was maybe 8 years old when she first heard a brewer and I talk about if one of his dry hopped beers seemed a bit “catty.”

She looked puzzled. Daria explained we were talking about an aroma associated with a litter box. She giggled, clearly not understanding this was a serious discussion.

Yesterday Pete Brown wrote about “dank” — a descriptor which comes with its own interesting sidebar. But that aside, Pete’s post and the comments that followed illustrate the challenge of describing what we smell and taste.

There’s no arguing that hops such as Citra and Eldorado contribute aromas hops previously have not. But it’s not clear if some aromas considered “bad” a few years ago are now acceptable. At least for the niche within a niche that constitutes those who enjoy hop-centric beers. And descriptions of flavors not acceptable in England in the 1930s that simply refer to “rank American type” or “Manitoba” don’t provide much help. On the one hand, brewers didn’t care for American Pacific Coast hops because of their “peculiar aroma.” On the other, they found drinkers liked an “American tang” in moderation.

It would have been nice had there by a beer flavor wheel (at the top) or a beer aroma wheel (bottom – click on either to enlarge). The former is better established, but both are works in progress. Use them as you will, but feel free to digress, as @olllllo did here: “David Schollmeyer’s Bucket Hugger is on @Papagobrewing and is a licorice mule with velvet socks.”

Beer Flavor Wheel

Beer Aroma Wheel

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6 Responses to Maybe we need a hop flavor/aroma wheel

  1. Alan October 5, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    I think we each need a web-based flavor/aroma wheel that can both record personal experience and then turn into an aggregator that combines the experiences of all people.

    A GUI that could overlay on BA or RB and scrape the hop (or other references) to display descriptions of sensations and link in examples of beers displaying this or that characteristic.

  2. Stan Hieronymus October 5, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Alan – Can you get your staff working on that?

  3. Alan October 5, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Well – as my family, friends and employers have pointed out at all stages of my life – what I want and what I get are two different things.

  4. Craig October 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Cripes, the whole things seems like so much work.

  5. Olllllo October 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Well Stan was up late or really early to catch that tweet!

  6. Stan Hieronymus October 6, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Early. And farther east.

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