We all love experimenting with new hop varieties in the beer we make. But don’t forget about some of the varieties that have been around for a while. Especially if you haven’t brewed with a hop, it’s a new variety to you!
Brewers Be Crazy
When a new variety comes on the brewing scene, there are always a few that become the darlings of home and commercial brewers. For a few years, it was almost impossible to get Citra® (affiliate link), at least at a price I was willing to pay. But its unique citrus, peach, and tropical fruit character put it in high demand.
Currently, El Dorado™ (affiliate link) is a hop that is still waiting for production to catch up with demand. The mango, pineapple, and candy-like flavors are calling to brewers everywhere.
The new hops are always a fun adventure, especially as a homebrewer. Getting to make a beer with a single hop variety is a great way to really learn about its character and get inspiration for using it with other hops.
Sometimes I Have to Settle
There are only a few options when you can’t get your hands on the ingredients you want for a batch of beer:
- Pick something similar
- Pick something you haven’t used
OK, realistically, there are only two options since we’re going to brew, right?
One day, when I was assembling a recipe, I was offered a good deal on a variety I hadn’t used before: Brewer’s Gold(affiliate link). This was a hop I knew very little about, but I knew it had been around a while. A quick search reveals it’s a hop that was released in 1919.
I brewed up a pale ale recipe I had made many times before, and substituted brewer’s gold hops for all of the additions. I adjusted the additions to compensate for alpha acids using “home bittering units” to estimate bittering levels.
Given the age of the hop variety, I was expecting the character to be focused on floral and spicy notes. My first taste was an epiphany: fruit character abounded in this hop. I tasted some spice notes in the background, but the flavor was dominated by blueberry and blackberry fruitiness.
I wonder what other surprises are waiting to be rediscovered in the world of hops. Personally, I think cascade and centennial are both foundational hops that are still well known and drive their own demand. Are there any hop varieties that have been around a while you consider to be underrated? What characters do you like about them? Tweet at me with #BrewUpHopAdventures