Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kohatu Hops - Tasting Notes

Last, but not least, we have Kohatu. I got these pellets from Farmhouse Brewing Supply as well. These were 2014 crop and were listed at 8.1% AA. The aroma of the hop pellets really wowed me. There was some complex tropical fruit, citrus and pine resin.

The aroma of the beer had some very nice complexity. I picked up citrus (grapefruit, primarily), stone fruit, some pine in the background, and some vinous notes.

The flavor was resinous with lingering pine. I also got some lemon/grapefruit citrus notes, but the flavor didn't seem as potent as the aroma. There was also some stone fruit & tropical notes. The finish saw the pine resin character linger a bit. Bittering was moderate-to-full and clinging.

My impression of Kohatu is somewhere along the lines of Nelson-meets-Mosaic. The only thing is that the hop character didn't seem as potent in this beer as I would expect from Nelson or Mosaic. As I mentioned in a previous post, I did change my recipe a bit for this batch. The increased maltiness this time around may be contributing to the somewhat muted hop flavor here.

I do think that Kohatu has a lot of potential. I think this one is perfectly suited to IPA's.The bittering and flavor are in the ballpark of something like Chinook, while the aroma is much more fruity and complex. I think dry hops are where this hop is going to shine the brightest.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Wai-iti Hops - Tasting Notes

Next up is Wai-iti. This NZ hop has been on my wishlist for a while, and I was finally able to find some through Farmhouse Brewing Supply. The hops I used were pellets from the 2014 crop, and were listed at only 4.1% AA. The pellets had a potent, oily aroma that seemed to be typical NZ-style tropical fruit.

The aroma of the beer had a massive blackcurrant note, paired up with passionfruit in a supporting role.

The flavor was very blackcurrant-forward as well. I did get some lime/lemongrass and passion fruit. There was also a bit of a resinous quality, but it made me think of concentrated currant/ribes more than the typical dank/pine resin character you find in hops like Columbus or Simcoe. As the currant fades out there are floral notes, passion fruit and some fleeting sweet cinnamon notes as well.

Bittering was mild-to-moderate and fairly clean.

I have a feeling that Wai-iti is going to be quite a polarizing hop. To me, I perceive "catty" as blackcurrant, and it is a flavor and aroma that I enjoy. To those who perceive "catty" as tomcat spray, I'd be willing to bet that this hop will not go over well. I see this being a hop that is best in a blend. While it does have some fruit undertones, the currant note is the predominant character by far. I think it would be nice in an IPA to balance some fruitier hops. It might also be nice as a dry hop in a sour, and maybe as a flavor addition in a beer that has some dark fruit character.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Experimental J-Lime Hops - Tasting Notes

I'll lead off with the Experimental J-Lime batch. These were whole cone hops I got from Yakima Valley Hops, weighing in at 6.9% AA. The aroma coming off the raw hops was quite mild. I was struggling to pick up much beyond the typical grassy/herbal aroma typical of raw hops. I will say that this is pretty common in whole cone hops (at least for me), and that doesn't always translate to a mild hop once brewed. This also seemed like it came from the bottom of the bag (lots of loose bracts, not a lot of whole cones), so that may factor into my results as well.

The aroma of the beer didn't have a lot of hop punch. I picked up some citrus and berry notes, along with some stonefruit (which really reminded me more of a yeast ester than hop oil). I also noted faint vanilla and earth. I really had to fight to pick out a lot of these aromas and outside of the citrus and berry, I'm not 100% sold that these are coming from the hops rather than yeast or malt.

On the palate I got a mild, herbal hop note with a bit of tangy citrus. The finish has some lingering bitterness along with some earth/dirt/mushroom notes. Bittering seemed moderate and did linger faintly on the finish.

As I mentioned in my lead-in, I fermented this one in a HDPE water jug and I fear that may have stripped a lot of the hop character. My initial impressions really made me think of some UK hops like Fuggle and Challenger. If my flavor assessment is accurate, then this may be interesting in UK-style pale ales. I do have this hop earmarked for a rebrew some time.

New Round of Hop Tastings

Things have been fairly quiet on the brewing front for me for a little while now. I did manage to squeeze in a 3-pack of single-hopped brews recently and I'll be posting my tasting notes in the next few days. This time around I brewed with Wai-iti and Kohatu from New Zealand, as well as an experimental variety known as "Experimental J-Lime".

I changed up my recipe a little bit compared to my usual mix of Extra Light DME + Munich LME. This time I went with 14 oz of Light DME and 3 oz of Carahell. The CaraHell was steeped for 10 minutes as the kettle came up to temp. I stuck to my usual hopping schedule of 40-45 IBU added as soon as I pulled the grains (calculated as a 20-minute addition). This was followed by 1/4 oz at flameout and 1/2 oz as dry hops.

Generally speaking, I found that the hop character of these beers was less than my typical trial batch. I don't blame the hops for this; I blame my new recipe. These beers all turned out maltier than usual, and I think that tended to shift the balance away from the hops a bit.

For full disclosure, I also have one more caveat. I ran out of 1-gallon glass jugs, so the J-lime batch was fermented in a 1-gallon HDPE water jug. I feel like this is important to note because the J-Lime had significantly less hop character than the other beers. I do have some concerns that the HDPE container may have adsorbed some of the hop compounds leading to decreased hop character.