Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nelson Sauvin Hops - Tasting Notes

Next up are tasting notes from a beer I brewed with Nelson Sauvin. These were 12.1% AA from AHS. The raw hops reminded me of a typical west coast Cascade/Centennial/Amarillo/etc type hop, but there is a distinct fragrant white wine note on top of the citrus.

The nose of the beer is much like the hops themselves. I pick up white grapefruit along with a distinct, perfumey Fume Blanc/Gewurz-type white wine note.

The flavor follows closely to what I get in the aroma. It's mainly ruby-red grapefruit along with a floral/fruity white wine note. There is a bit of a savory/herbal flavor component behind the wine, but I don't find it to be very strong or off-putting to my palate. I also get a slight resinous pine/juniper flavor as well.

I'm a big fan of Nelson. This will definitely be in heavy rotation in my fruit-forward hoppy beers. I also think this would be fantastic as a dry hop in a sour beer. In addition, if you were looking for a hop to dry-hop a cider with, Nelson would be an excellent choice.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Summer Hops - Tasting Notes

Up next for tasting notes is Summer. This is a fairly new Australian variety that I picked up on a whim because the description intrigued me. The pellets I used were 5.9% AA from Austin Homebrew Supply. The pellets had an herbal/noble-type smell with some sweet spice and some faint floral/fruit notes.

The aroma of the finished beer had notes of vanilla, leather, and earthiness. It also seems to really enhance the bready/toasty munich malt character.

On the palate I picked up cedar, vanilla, some dry spiciness and woody notes. Bittering level was moderate.

I was really surprised by my results with Summer. It was nothing like the apricot and melon descriptions I had read. I'm really not sure what to make of it, but the hop character I was getting from this beer is quite unique. It would fit in really well in English styles, but I could see it working well in dark beers, wood-aged beers, Brett-aged beers. I'm actually tempted to dry-hop a dunkelweizen with it as well. I'd be interested to see how this blends with other hop varieties.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Belma Hops - Tasting Notes

Time for some tasting notes on Belma. The pellets I used are from Hops Direct - from the 2012 harvest and clocking in at 11.3% AA. Smelling the pellets, I just pick up some herbal/grassy hop aromas along with some onion/garlic. Thankfully, none of the onion carried through to the finished beer.

The nose of the beer is pretty mild. I pick up some sweet fruity notes in the melon/tropical/peach family, but not much else.

On the palate I get more of that melon/tropical fruitiness, along with some herbal notes. I didn't pick up any of the strawberry that a lot of other brewers have noted - if it's there it's not something really forward and distinct. Bittering seems right in the middle-of-the-road.

I know Belma has been getting some mixed reviews, and I can see why. It definitely doesn't seem like a hop-bomb hop. It seems rather mild.

On the flip side, Belma has a pretty clean sweet-fruit character. It's not quite as tropical as a lot of the NZ varieties, and it doesn't have that earthiness that I get from Calypso. It may not fit in an IPA, but it certainly has a place in something like an American Wheat that can use a restrained fruity hop note.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Calypso Hops - Tasting Notes

Next beer up was brewed with Calypso. These were 12.8% AA from AHS. The pellets had some tropical fruit aroma, along with a pungent herbal/earthy scent and a hint of tobacco. I also picked up a very distinct aroma that smells like fresh-picked tomatoes, or more specifically, like the smell of a tomato plant after you just snapped off a ripe tomato.

On the nose of the beer itself I get some aromas of tropical fruit (similar to coconut), some earthiness, and faint notes of onion/sulfur as well as cocoa butter.

On the palate there is a fleeting grapefruit/citrus flavor, but the main character is herbal/grassy with a resinous bitterness that really seems to cling on. Some earthy and spicy flavors are tucked away in the background as well. I did start to pick up an interesting cocoa flavor after a few sips that seemed to intensify as the beer warmed up a bit.

I have to admit, with a name like Calypso I was expecting something totally different from this hop. I was hoping for something that reminded me of sipping a Mai Tai, but this seems pretty "meh" overall. This had a really tongue-coating resinous bite, so maybe this could work as a bittering hop for an IPA. The cocoa flavor was kind of interesting. I could see this doing well as a late addition in a Robust Porter.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

El Dorado Hops - Tasting Notes

El Dorado is up on the tasting block next. These were 15.3% AA pellets from the 2012 harvest that I got from Missouri Malt Supply. The raw pellets have a grassy hop aroma, but there was also a fruitiness that reminded me of gummy bears or Jolly Ranchers.

The nose of the finished beer has a sweet fruity, melon-like note. There is also a hint of sweet-tart candy.

Again, the palate picks up more straightforward sweet fruit, something in the ballpark of watermelon or honeydew. There is also a hint of Pez candy and a slight resin note. Bittering level is moderate.

El Dorado is a pretty distinct, oily hop. But I find the flavor to be pretty monotone on its own. It could fit in an IPA if you paired it with more citrusy hops and/or hops with some dankness. On its own it would probably be great in something like a watermelon wheat. This isn't a hop I'd rush out to stock up on, but it certainly has its place.

One thing I'd like to note is that you really don't want to overdo the crystal malt, and make sure your beer attenuates well if you have a lot of late additions of El Dorado. This hop already leaves a bit of a sweet impression on its own, and I don't think you would want to accentuate that.

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.