Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Vic Secret - Hop Tasting Notes

The final beer from this run was brewed using Vic Secret hops, which is another new cultivar from Australia.

The aroma of this beer was dominated by a big passionfruit note. I also got mango peel and tangerine notes from it as well. The aroma intensity was good, but not quite as high as the Enigma and HBC-438 beers from this group of trials.

The flavor of the beer was more of that big passionfruit that was on the nose, supported by some pine undertones. The intensity of hop flavor was moderate and let some of the malt character show through. The bitterness was smooth, with some lingering resin character through the finish.

I am a big fan of Vic Secret. That passionfruit character is distinct and intense. It makes me think of Galaxy, but it isn't quite as intense and doesn't have as much of the stonefruit or citrus I get from Galaxy sometimes. Vic Secret will definitely have a home in IPA's, but its lower intensity would also let it work in some other styles that may get overpowered by something like Galaxy or Citra. The ubiquitous "hoppy American wheat" would be a nice summer sipper with some Vic Secret in the dry hops. I could also see this working well with estery English yeasts if you're looking to get creative. A Landlord-style pale ale with Vic Secret in the whirlpool has a lot of potential.

Although it's not quite as potent as some of the others (it's not mild by any means, just not crushingly intense), I think Vic Secret is my favorite of the hops I've used on this run. I recently brewed an IPA featuring Vic Secret as the primary hop, along with some X-17 and Meridian, and I was very happy with the results.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Enigma - Hop Tasting Notes

My next tasting was Enigma. This is a new Australian hop that I got through Farmhouse Brewing Supply. The pellets clocked in at 18.1% AA.

The nose of the beer had a bright citrus/fruit aroma up front. There was a lot of complexity in the background, with woodsy, spicy, dank and piny aromas all present to one extent or another. The aroma was really big and bright, and had a really familiar "hoppy" character, for lack of better description. It reminded me of really peak quality Simcoe.

The flavor had big citrus and pine notes, almost giving the impression of fresh spruce tips. I did pick up some onion - nothing comparable to Summit, but still over my taste threshold. The bitterness seemed smooth, with some resin notes that fade out on the finish.

The descriptors I've read for Enigma lean towards red fruit (raspberries, red currants, etc.), but I'm not getting much of that. What I am getting still tells me that this is going to be a killer IPA hop, though. Although I did get a bit of the dreaded onion in the flavor, the bright hop aroma is too good to pass over. I'm looking forward to brewing an IPA with this in combination with some other hops in the near future.

Monday, April 11, 2016

HBC 438 (aka "Ron Mexico") - Hop Tasting Notes

My next tasting is HBC 438 (aka "Ron Mexico") from Hopunion, which also supports the Ales for ALS charity. In contrast to the Armadillo hops, the HBC hop pellets had a great aroma before they even made it to the beer. A unique feature of this hop is that it is a cross between a native American hop (Humulus lupulus neomexicanus) and a more traditional variety of European/North American descent.

The Ron Mexico beer had a very distinct, aromatic nose. The main aromas were passionfruit and blackcurrant. There was also some juniper in the background.

On the palate I found that the blackcurrant character took the lead, chased by passionfruit and citrus. I picked up just a fleeting hint of dank/onion at the tail end that gives way to a smooth juniper-resin bitterness on the finish.

HBC-438 is going to be a solid IPA hop for sure. It has a substantial oil content (2.5-3.5 mL/100 g), and a unique flavor profile. This is the first time I've brewed with a hop of neomexicanus heritage, so I don't know if that is where the distinct flavor is coming from, but it definitely sets this hop variety apart as unique. It should be able to hold its own with other hops in a blend quite well. I look forward to playing around with this one a bit more.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Armadillo (Experimental) - Hop Tasting Notes

They're a little overdue, but it's time to get around to posting the tasting notes for the rest of my most recent batch of single-hopped beers.

Next up is the beer I brewed with the experimental hop variety Armadillo. These are leaf hops from the 2014 harvest from Yakima Valley Hops. To be honest, the raw hops left a lot to be desired right out of the gate. There wasn't much aroma to them at all. On its own, that's not necessarily a bad mark for whole hops. But the pound of hops I got reminded me of the bottom of a bag of chips. There were few whole cones; it was mostly loose bracts. There was also very little of the stickiness and springiness that I often feel in good-quality hop cones.

In the beer itself, I picked up a rather mild hop character in the aroma. There was some herbal character with notes of citrus and lime. The flavor was even milder - there were faint citrus notes, some resinous pine and faint floral notes as well. The bittering character was a clinging resin on the back of the tongue. It's not as abrasive as something like Chinook or Columbus, but it's not particularly smooth either.

Overall, my experience with Armadillo is a swing and a miss. I'm sure some of this may be attributable to the quality of the hops I received, but I don't see much good use for the hops I have on hand. They could possibly be a decent bittering hop for an IPA, but that's all I got.