Don’t Just Chase the New!

fresh cones are huge!
fresh cones are huge!

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

American Pale Ale

There are only a few options when you can’t get your hands on the ingredients you want for a batch of beer:

  1. Pick something similar
  2. Pick something you haven’t used
  3. Don’t brew

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *