Friday, April 3, 2015

"Hop My Beer" Chinook & Citra Hop Oils - Tasting Notes

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.

The 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.

Overall, 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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Hop My Beer" Hop Oils

I recently got wind of a new product on the market - "Hop My Beer" varietal hop oils. These are steam-distilled hop oils that do not contain the bitter or vegetal compounds in hops. These differ from a CO2 hop extract, which also contain alpha acids and are intended to be used in the boil to impart bitterness. Hop oils such as "Hop My Beer" are intended to be used on the cold side to impart aroma, similar to dry hops.

The Hop My Beer product initially made my spidey senses tingle. I initially came across the product on eBay, and it seemed to be marketed primarily towards beer drinkers rather than homebrewers as a way to doctor commercial beer. I have had poor experiences with similar products in the past. But after an email exchange with them and reading through their website, I got a much better vibe about the company and their products.

I have seen hop oils like this before, but it is rare to come across varietal-specific oils. The price was right (about $5 for a 10mL bottle, which should be enough to dose 1-2 cases of beer), so I decided to snap up a few to play around with. I ended up up ordering their Apollo, Centennial, Citra and Chinook oils, as well as an iso-AA product which can be used to add bitterness to beer post-boil.

I will post my tasting notes separately, but I will say that I was impressed with the product packaging when they arrived. Each bottle was sealed and hand-numbered. The bottles have fine dropper tips on them, which make it pretty easy to measure out the oil drop-by drop. The instructions recommend storing the bottles in the fridge as well, which I take as a sign that they have quality and freshness of their product as a top priority.