Hop Steiner recently released four experimental hop varieties (dubbed the EXP series) to homebrewers. I picked up two of the more interesting (to me) hops and brewed a couple single hop batches with them. For one batch I brewed Vinnie Cilurzo’s Hop 2 It single hop pale ale recipe (the subject of a future post), and for the other batch I brewed a single malt and single hop beer, a “SMaSH”. I have never brewed a SMaSH before, but I’ve tasted quite a few at homebrew meetings. The goal of a SMaSH beer is to learn what a specific ingredient brings to a finished beer without any extraneous flavors getting in the way. For my SMaSH, I chose Simpson’s Golden Promise malt because I had two bags laying around and I really enjoy the clean, slightly biscuity malt flavor. I use it often in my English bitter recipe and previously used it as the base malt for my house IPA before switching to American 2-row. I would characterize Golden Promise as somewhere between standard American 2-row (very clean, neutral) and English Maris Otter malt (more biscuit, bready). Because I had a good grasp on what the malt would taste like, I was better positioned to test out the new EXP 6300. There would be very few interfering flavors, as long as I got a nice clean fermentation.
Appearance. Nice copper hue with a bit of haziness. Not sure where the haze is coming from as I usually don’t experience much chill haze and didn’t change my process for this beer at all. Still hazy after being in the keg for over a month at near freezing temperatures.
Aroma. Things got weird. Most noticeable is coconut, pineapple, vanilla, and general tropical notes. Smells sweet, the combo of coconut and pineapple makes me think of piña colada and suntan lotion. Or the beach in general.
Taste and Mouthfeel. Aroma of sweetness carries over into the taste, some grassiness, coconut and vanilla. Not a very harsh hop, smooth bitterness. Alcohol heat present, which is not the hop’s fault.
Overall Impressions. This has lasted a while in the kegerator because this hop isn’t very enticing on it’s own. I also let the fermentation rise too high and created a noticeable alcohol flavor that took a while to fade. I haven’t done a SMaSH beer before, mostly because I feel single hop beers can’t really stand on their own, and this is no exception. I had good luck with HBC 342 single hop, but the character of the EXP 6300 is too simple and just isn’t tasty enough to warrant going back for multiple pints. I think pairing this hop with a standard citrusy American variety like Cascade would remind the drinker of a more classic hop profile and be easier to drink. Or maybe something like Simcoe or Citra for a general fruit hop bomb. Pairing with a more expressive yeast would be interesting, something like a German weizen yeast (banana, cloves) or saison (earthy, mineral, spicy) would make the beer more interesting by adding complexity. I’ve still got the better part of a pound left of these hops, so maybe one of those ideas will make it into the brewing schedule.