I’m going to start a series of single hop beers this year, to be brewed alongside my regular beers. Brewing with a single hop is just about the best education a brewer can give himself. The craft of mashing, sparging, boiling and fermenting is fairly easy. Recipe design is all art.
The basic idea will be to brew a hoppy summer ale, or pale ale. I’ll keep the recipe more or less the same, 90% extra pale Maris Otter, 5% Caramalt and 5% wheat. 100g of the hop in question with 15 minutes of the boil to go and another 100g in the whirlpool, left to steep for half an hour before chilling. The quantity of bittering will depend on the hop (and my mood). Nottingham yeast. Where it seems appropriate, I may swap out the wheat for some darker crystal malt or use a lager yeast. When doing a 10 gallon batch, I’ll probably keg one half, fine with gelatin, and serve immediately. The other half i’ll stick in a secondary fermenter and go in with some dry hops. The gravity will be variable between 1.043 – 1.065
The idea will be to evaluate the aroma, flavour and bitterness that each hop brings to the beer. I’ll also be on the lookout for any subtler effects, such as tannin contribution, haze and mouthfeel. Where i’m doing a 10 gallon batch, i’ll be able to compare the aroma between the dry hopped beer and the regular, late hopped beer.
No hops are off limits! I hope to try some new ones and revisit some old friends. I still don’t know what an all Fuggles ale tastes like. Or how about an all Motueka ale? What will happen when I late hop and dry hop with hops that are not traditionally considered aroma hops, like Northern Brewer or Target? There’s lots of experimenting to be done with the New Zealand hops and newer US varieties like Citra. I won’t just be using new hops either, i’ll be making sure to cover the bases with classics like East Kent Goldings, Cascade, Styrians, and so on.
First of the year was Aurora. These hops are grown in Slovenia and are part of the ‘Super Styrian’ family. I can’t find much information about this hop, apart from that it’s related to the Northern Brewer hop. These had an AA% of 8% and a surprisingly deep, green colour when I brewed with them. The beer straight from the FV had a fantastic pineapple flavour and aroma.
I sampled the first pint (above) 10 days after mashing. The hop gives a great, mellow tropical fruit flavour and aroma, along with a slight herbal, marijuana flavour. Pineapple and mango, but without any of the sharper citrus notes I get from similar US hops. It has a mellowness and approachability I associate with Slovenian hops.
Overall a very pleasant and impressive hop that I will be adding to my arsenal and using regularly. Great for a summer ale and with enough character of its own to stand up in a single hop beer.
NEXT HOP: Northern Brewer … Coming February ’10