The first oils I evaluated from Hop My Beer were Chinook and Citra. The beer I used to taste-test this was Rye King from Brutopia, and excellent local brewpub. It is essentially a Rye Maerzen with a little hop bite (~30 IBU) and only a touch of noble hop aroma. I figured it would be a pretty good base beer for sampling hop oils.The recommended dose is 1-2 drops per 12 oz pour. I started with 1 drop in 6oz, so this is the upper end of the starting range.
When I opened the bottle of Chinook oil I picked up a
grassy, hop pellet aroma from the oil itself. In the dosed beer I picked up some grassy,
cucumber peel aromas, along with anise and an herbal/spicy/minty note
similar to a Ricola cough drop.
On the flavor side, there were
some raw hop/resin notes along with some herbal grassiness. The resin
tended to linger a bit which left the impression of a bit more
bitterness (like maybe 5 IBU more). Unlike what I'd expect from Chinook, I didn't get any pine or citrus in
either the flavor or the aroma.
The Citra oil had the same grassy, raw hop aroma in the bottle. When I
dosed the beer I got more of that raw hop aroma and herbal mint/spice
aromas. I did pick up some sweet tropical fruit in the papaya/guava
family and maybe a hint of Hawaiian Punch. The fruit was faint, however
and had none of the mango/citrus I typically get from Citra.
Citra-dosed beer had a bit more of the raw hop resin flavor than the
Chinook. It made the beer seem a bit more bitter (maybe 8-10 IBU more
perceived bitterness to my palate). Other than that, I got no other hop
character in the flavor - no fruit at all. Adding 1 more drop made no
discernable change. At that point, I added 2 more drops (4 drops total
in a 6oz sample) and there was still no fruit character, only more of
that "raw hop" flavor.
In the end, the hop oil reminded me more
of the hop character in unfermented wort straight from the brew kettle,
rather than what I get from dry hops. It's not horrible, but I'm not a
big fan. I was hoping for pine and citrus, and just got grassy, raw
hops. It seems like the hop oils that lead to grassy hop character like
myrcene and farnesene are here in spades, but the floral/citrus oils
like linalool, geraniol, and citronellol are either lost or hidden.
I don't think these are bad products, but they don't necessarily
deliver for the trained palate. I am still interested in the iso-alpha
acid extract I got. I will post some tasting notes from the Centennial and Apollo oils once I get around to testing them.
I'm also wondering if the character is different if these oils are allowed to sit in the beer for a bit before consuming similar to dry hops, or even if used in the whirlpool. There is definitely some further experimentation warranted with these products.