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.


  1. Hey Eric. Didn't know how to contact you except to post a comment. Sorry.

    Anyway, I saw your post recently on the AHA web forum. You posted your recipe for Old Peculiar. Here's the link for your reference:

    Anyway, you mentioned the only thing you'd change is the yeast. Wondering if since you've posted that, if there would be other changes you make? Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Nick,

      Below is the recipe for Old Peculier as I originally received it. The caramel syrup is brewer's caramel coloring - similar to what they use in cola for coloring (This is something commonly used in England). I used a combo of Lyle's Golden Syrup and Molasses as a substitute for the Sucrose and Caramel Syrup, along with a splash of Midnight Wheat to make up the rest of the color. I went with Extra Dark Crystal because I like that raisiny character.

      As far as how close it comes to OP, I'd say this version is a bit closer to a traditional Old Ale with its molasses and dark fruit flavor. To me, Old Peculier drinks a bit more like a dark ESB rather than a traditional Old Ale. I haven't tried to clone OP exactly, but I'd probably use a lighter crystal malt (C-60ish) and maybe try something like D-90 Candi Syrup in place of the molasses in my Old Ale recipe that I posted in the forum.

      And my choice to change the yeast was simply a personal preference. Everything brewed with WLP037 tastes like Sam Smiths to me. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was looking for in my beer.

      Good luck. Let me know if you try this out!


      Pale ale malt - 71%
      Crystal malt (does not specify which) - 3%
      Torrified wheat - 7%
      Sucrose - 18%
      DD Williamson Caramel Syrup - 1%'

      30 IBU from magnum hops
      Late hops with fuggle ( does not specify what time to add)

      Sulphate - 400 mg/l
      chloride - 200 mg/l
      calcium - 170 mg/l
      alkalinity - 25

  2. Thanks so much! This is great. I'll see what I end up coming up with.