Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sterling Hops - Tasting Notes

Next up for tasting is Sterling. The hops I used were 7.1% AA from Hop Heaven, 2012 crop. The raw pellets had an interesting aroma. They were herbal and earthy, but I definitely picked up a cocoa note and a faint hint of cherries as well.

The nose has a lemony-citrus note up front. There is also some sweet spice and some fresh cut hay.

On the palate, Sterling's noble heritage finally starts to show. The characteristic herbal/floral noble hop flavor is much more prominent on the flavor side of things. There's also a nice, spicy white pepper note. There are undertones of fruity/lemonade notes as well, but it is restrained and not that juicy/grapefruit C-hop type citrus. There is a touch of resin that lingers as well. Bitterness isn't quite as neutral as something like Magnum, but it's still pretty smooth.

I think Sterling has a lot to offer from a hop versatility standpoint. It will fit in well as a flavor addition in a lager or as an aroma addition in an American Wheat, especially at lower hopping rates. It should also be really good in a Saison, given its nice citrus/spicy combo. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I think I'd also like Sterling in an IPA. I like to add some noble-type hops for complexity to IPA's on occasion, and Sterling seems like it would hold its own even in a highly-hopped beer.


  1. Eric, besides the bittering FWH hops to reach your IBU target, are you keeping the flameout and dryhop amounts the same for each beer? I ask because I'd never think of dryhopping nearly 1oz/gal with noble hops, on top of what I have to use for bittering. I was thinking of matching oil content as a way to compare varieties and let that dictate my flavor/aroma amounts. Do I have nothing to fear over what amounts to about a 6-pack of beer and my time?

    1. I am keeping the amounts the same for each beer. My goal is just to get a good overall impression of how the hop tastes and works in a beer. To be honest, I rarely drink more than a couple of bottles from a batch. There are merely "test batches" in the strictest sense of the term.

      I'm dry-hopping at my typical APA rate (1/2 oz per gallon). By hopping each hop at the same rate, I can also gauge their relative strengths. For example, as much as I love Motueka, it's just not oily enough to hold its own against really oily hops like Mosaic in an IPA. I know this because I tried two beers hopped at the same rates back-to-back.

      While I've never done any old-world noble hops like Saaz or Hallertau with this recipe, it works just fine with New World hops with noble ancestry, like Sterling or Motueka.