When I saw this dry hop experiment floating around on the internet, I thought it would be great to do with my local homebrew club. The basic idea is use pellets to dry hop a commercial light lager in the bottle for a few days, cold crash it, and then do a sensory analysis (mostly olfactory) on the effects of different hop varietals. Any light beer will work, so I bought a case of Miller Lite and dosed six sets of four, each with a different hop. I used a combination of classic hops as well as some new experimental hops to see what kind of unique aromas we could find. Here are a few of the descriptors I pulled from the homebrew club audience of about 25 people.
Amarillo: Mild aroma, dill, flowery, slight onion, perfume, very slight tropical note. This was the surprise of the bunch. I ran a test prior to dry hopping the entire case on a six pack and found amarillo to be underwhelming. Needs something to amplify it, possibly in combination with kettle hopping (which usually happens anyway) or paired with another varietal in the dry hop.
Centennial: (Older package) Not a great aroma, flowery, grassy, muted, semi-dull. I think I will attempt this variety again because the hops I used were from a one-pound package from the 2011 harvest which I have slowly used over the past two years. Loosely packed pellets created tons of floaties and was generally unappealing.
Simcoe: Powerful aroma, cat pee, tropical notes, fruit punch, nettles, pine, pineapple, nose-bomb. This was the clear standout and my personal favorite. I also did a pre-test with this hop and gladly drank the entire bottle after sensory analysis. Made Miller Lite taste like a delicious craft beer.
Hop Steiner EXP 1210: Mild aroma, Pineapple, English cask like, light citrus, burnt orange. This hop smelled delicious upon opening the bag and persuaded me to brew the Hop 2 It recipe to bring to this year’s National Homebrew Conference.
Hop Steiner EXP 6300: Suntan lotion, wet leaves, crab shells (?), coconut butter, oily, cinnamon. Very weird hop. I recently did a single malt and single hop (SMaSH) beer with this, and it definitely is a very unique hop.
Crystal: Mild Aroma, slight tea leaf, spicy, flowers, earl grey tea, herbal, noble like character. Very nice, gentle hop to go against the other aggressive varietals. This hop, with it’s thin, very densely packed pellets caused the only problem when dosing the beers. Every time I would drop a pellet in it would cause the beer to foam out uncontrollably, losing a bunch of beer. We were still able to evaluate the beer, but it was messy and generally sucked.
Overall, the experiment was received well and we’re planning to do another batch at the next meeting. Stay tuned for those tasting notes.
The Brooklyn Brewsers recently did a single hop experiment in which everyone participating brewed the same American pale ale recipe but used different hops. Everyone used the same amount of hops (1 oz.) for the 30 minute, flame out, and dry hop additions. Other than the hop varietal, the 60 minute bittering addition was the only variable between batches. The batches using hops with higher alpha acid percentages used fewer hops for bittering and those with lower alpha acid percentages used a bit more (we had a chart to help us out) with the goal being that all of the beers would be the same bitterness IBU-wise. I chose the still unnamed HBC 342 hop that I picked up from Farmhouse Brewing Supply. I had previously brewed with this hop in the Lagunitas Fusion 9 but we also used Citra and another experimental variety so it was tough to pick out exactly what HBC 342 brought to the table.
Appearance. Looks like an American pale ale, deep copper, brilliant clarity with a dense white head. Really appetizing.
Aroma. Dank, resinous, hoppy, grassy when poured. Subsides after a bit and begins to open up into beautiful floral and herbal notes with some citrus. A few tasters also suggested sweet mint. Just a hint of tropical/berry something that is hard to put my finger on. Maybe the watermelon aroma people seem to always reference in connection with this hop?
Taste and Mouthfeel. Very smooth bitterness with a touch of lemon peel and minty herbal notes. Very pleasant.
Overall Impressions. At the single hop tasting, people were really blown away by this hop and it’s dankness. I’d like to do some more late-hopping with this variety to see if I can really bring out the watermelon. This beer has been a go-to with the warming weather even with all five taps on my kegerator pouring pretty good beer. Super easy-drinking with a distinct but pleasant hop nose.
Everyone in the group did a great job sticking to the recipe and we got to sample some great hops. My only complaint was that I wish we got to try more hops! HBC 342 actually won the overall vote for most impressive hop (which I can’t take credit for) but Mosaic was another standout. I was blown away by the peach and apricot bomb of Glacier. I brew an all-Glacier bitter recipe that has never tasted that good. This experiment was such a success and a great learning tool that I have planned two more Hop 2 It batches using some experimental Steiner hops that I just picked up.