New Hops Changing Hop Profiles

By scot in Beer, Lounge on Friday, January 20th, 2012


I remember the days when Bell’s Hopslam was a beer I could never get enough of. I remember when every citrus hop bomb was a beer I sought out. I couldn’t get enough Cascade and/or Centennial in my American Craft Beer. I am not disappointed in the latest Hopslam, it just doesn’t seem to hold the same luster it used to. I want more from it.

What? How can I say that? Next I will be saying that Pliny The Elder by Russian River Brewing Company is merely an average American Imperial IPA.

I will never go that far, but…

Our senses change over time. The simple reason is this is due to age and the senses tend to dull over time; more of a certain stimulation is needed to create the same sensory response. I think the more logical is the amount of hop laden American craft beer and home brew that I consume. All of the beers I brew are usually over hopped for the single reason that I love hops.

But, I don’t think I can easily stop here as I think there is something else contributing and, quite possibly, the major factor in my shifting desire in hopped up beers: new hop varieties. Yeah, I dared to say it.

Every year new hop varieties are showing up on the market. They quickly become the rage of the industry and everyone is clamoring for them, even myself. The new, shiny ones always catch our attention. What the hell, they are new, that is just human nature.

A few years back Simcoe and Amarillo where the big new comers on the block. Simcoe with pine flavor and aroma while Amarillo with big citrus and highlighted fruit and floral profile both burst onto the scene. In the last year or two Citra has gained a lot of momentum, becoming the focus of some American craft beers which have becoming ridiculously popular. HBC 342 is in it’s infancy, as it doesn’t even have a name, but is being lauded for a citrus and watermelon profile. New Zealand is starting to bring some outstanding hops to market too. Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, and Rakau to name a few, are high on the list of home brewers as well as professionals.

All these hops have two things in common: high alpha acids and out of this world bold aromas/flavors: Nelson Sauvin is so potent that minimal amounts are needed to create grand aromas.

This hop boldness is the perfect blend for what American craft beer and home brew drinkers desire: the bolder the better in IPAs (I am at the front of the line). Tropical, fruits, wine, and other aroma/flavor combinations come through in these hops, imparting newness and shininess to these beers. Everyone is jumping on American craft beer, therefore, by association, people want to be the first to report on a new, way out hop.

Rounding back, Hopslam and Pliny are still top notch and the heads of their classes. They might seem “tamer” because of the brash new comers, nonetheless they are solid brews that will stand the test of time. Will these new hops and hopped beers do the same or will they fall to the way side as newer hop varieties continue to hit the lucrative market? I am going to be happy to be part of this hoppy ride. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The caterpillar has more than 2,000 muscles.


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