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.