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Hop aroma impact

Bert Grant smells fresh Cascade hopsUK hop merchant Charles Faram & Co. includes an interesting twist in providing basic information about the hops its sells.

Of course, its chart lists alpha acids and has a few descriptors (“molasses, chocolate, spicy” or “herbal, pineapple, resinous”) but there is also a column for “flavour intensity.” Those numbers are quite subjective. But, just as the colored meters DRAFT magazine featured about six months ago, they are useful as long as you also accept not everybody’s sense of smell is the same.

Also remember intensity is not necessarily the same thing as impact.

For instance, the Faram chart lists Galaxy as an 8, but it surely has as much pop as 9-rated hops like Citra, Amarillo, and Cascade> More than Admiral.

It seems painfully obvious, but how brewers use the hops and how much they use, well, that’s important.

Drink a Marble Brewery Pilsner made with Hersbrucker (6) or a Firestone Walker Brewing Pils with Spalter Select (5) and Saphir (5) for proof.

*****

That’s the late, great Bert Grant at the top. Those as Cascade hops in his hands.

Edelstoff: A beer fit for a hop queen

Did I mention the Edelstoff from Augustiner was from the wood, and a lot cheaper than beer at Oktoberfest in Munich?

Veronika Springer, Hallertau Hop Queen

Last week Veronika Springer was crowned Hallertau Hop Queen (Hopfenkönigin) for 2011-2012. I didn’t vote for her, but she received 62 percent (1,478) of the votes. The Wolnzach Volkfest tent was rocking, packed with hop farmers and friends washing down traditional festival food with liters of Augustiner.

Veronika Springer, Hallertau Hop Queen

The new queen is well qualified, having grown up on a hop farm and currently working at NATECO2, an extraction plant where hops are the biggest part of the business. She didn’t get my support, or that of several of the brewmasters I was seated with, because she seems to be skeptical about the future of “flavor”1 hops.

Change is afoot in Germany and these are brewers who want to be part of it. That doesn’t mean they are about to abandon tradition, but it does mean the range of flavors from Halltertau hops will soon be broader.2 The crew at the Hop Research Center at Hüll is not interested in copying American hop flavors, but I was there maybe three minutes before I thought, “These guys are not going to be left behind.”

1 With the line between what were once known as “bittering” and “aroma” hops already blurred — and the term “dual purpose” just not cutting it — I’m not sure how the idea of “flavor hops” will fit in, but I heard those words in the UK, Germany and Czech Republic. These could also be called “impact hops.” To the continental palate Cascade is a “flavor” hop; while you’ve got to throw something like Citra or Simcoe at an hop-experienced American for impact. Sound confusing? At least you don’t have to sort it out for a book.

2 These hops are also going to show up in beers brewed in America. I can’t wait.

And the band played on

But this beer didn’t have to travel to India on a boat

21st Amendment Hop CrisisOops. Forgot to send a change of address to the guys at 21st Amendment Brewery. (The fact is the people who bought our house in New Mexico likely will be receiving stray beers for years. Should have advertised that when the house was on the market.)

So this can of Hop Crisis Imperial IPA traveled a thousand more miles than they might have expected. But it’s not like it spent months at sea, bobbing away. I’m pretty sure it arrived fresh because it was packed in hops that hadn’t gone over to the cheesy side. Instead, lots of citrus and pine, and maybe something a cat left behind.

The basic package for Hop Crisis includes four cans in the colorful box pictured here. The press package contained one can and loose hops that quickly made a mess of my desk. I once joked you could smell the hops in Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA through the crown. Well, I did smell hops when I put this can in the fridge, because it was covered with sticky hop resin.

The fact sheet lists Columbus, Centennial and Cascade as bittering hops, but I think that means those are the ones used at various stages (in others words, also adding flavor and aroma) of the boil. It is dry hopped with Simcoe, Ahtanum, Amarillo and Cascade; thus the blast of citrus (from oranges to grapefruit) and pine that jumps from the glass. They say it has 94 IBU (International Bitterness Units), but I don’t know if that was measured in a lab or calculated. Either way, properly bitter. For good measure, it was aged on oak spirals.

The resulting beer won a silver medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival. It’s bold, complex and balanced in the Imperial IPA way.

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