Jester Hops

A hop variety from the UK that has the aroma and flavor profile of an American one?  How can this be?  Well, these Brew Dudes are about to find out.

I was contacted via Twitter by Ali Capper who runs Stocks Farm in Worcestershire, England. She let me know that they had a great harvest and that they had hops to purchase. When I went to their site, they had a clear call out to homebrewers to review their goods.

They had nine different varieties to choose from but the one that I noticed right away was Jester hops.

With measurements using the metric system and prices in GBP, I damned the torpedoes and bought some of these hops. The good thing is that the amount is enough to experiment with in a small batch before using them in a recipe for a 5 gallon batch.

Here are the vital stats for Jester hops:

Origin:  UK – from the Charles Faram breeding program. Their breeding program is based in Newland.

Aroma/Flavor: The three main descriptors I found out there were aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lychees, and blackcurrant. The big test will be how much they differ from the some of the American varieties that have similar profiles like Legacy hops.

Alpha Acid: 7.0 to 9.0%

Typical Usage: With its US-esque hop profile, I think this would be a good one for late boil additions. From the commercial examples that I have seen, it appears that they are definitely a flavor/aroma hop.

Beer Styles: Pale ales and other hop forward beers.

Certainly we will have more to report on these hops after they are shipped over the Atlantic to us. I am excited to be buying them straight from the farm that grew them. Once they arrive, I can update this post with an unboxing and then we’ll BIAB with them for a gallon batch or two.

Hey – here’s an update. Look at this photo:

Jester hops

Thanks again to Stocks Farm for the head’s up and the chance to try out their hops. If you are interested, check out their site when you have a chance. It was very easy to buy from them using PayPal, especially with the conversion of US dollars to British pounds.

Watch this space and Brew On.

Passion Fruit Flavor in Hops

This weekend, the plan is to get some of the one gallon, SMaSH hop explorations underway. These are the hawt new varieties that we have wanted to learn more about and brewing up small batches is a low-risk way to get that knowledge. If I were to brew five gallon batches and I don’t like the hop, I may be in the position of being stuck with a lot of beer I don’t want to drink. The one gallon batch presents a small yield of beer that may not be enjoyable and also keeps the costs low.

The hot hops that I am going to brew with are:

I also have a Down Under IPA on the calendar too. This recipe has a large amount of AU and NZ hops in them. One of the descriptors about the flavor and aroma of these hops that kept coming up was passion fruit.

I first saw it in the description of Simcoe hops. Back then, I was ignorant of what the fruit tasted like. I think I had it in some juice at some point but it was mixed with other flavors.

The Pursuit of Training Your Taste Buds

Beyond training to be a beer judge, it’s good to know what things taste like that are being used to describe beer flavors. Keeping a mind that is open to learn and is always in the pursuit of gaining knowledge led me to buy a passion fruit at the grocery store.

When I brought it home, I had to look online how to eat it. From what I found, I learn that it’s all about scooping the pulp out of the skin and slurping it up.

Here’s some photos of the first tasting:

The fruit is easy to cut open and the pulp was easy to spoon out. A few tastes and I got a good understanding of the flavors. The fruit is pretty tart, it’s got the lemon taste without the lemon scent. There are some notes of melon in there, mostly in the aroma. If you were to take a mild honeydew aroma and match it with some tart lemon flavors, you would have a passion fruit. I can see how this fruit would be used as a way to describe how a hop would smell and taste. It has a very bright tartness that if there is no citrus elements in the finished beer’s hop profile, then you would use passion fruit to describe it.

Let me see if I can commit this flavor to memory and pull it out later when I am tasting beer.

Brew on!

Home Grown Hops Harvest 2014

Year 5 of growing hops has proved to be a banner year for the harvest. My brother and I have finally have a yield that measures up to the ones I have read about online.

It didn’t start out that way. The death of my Cascade hops plant was a big setback, but we didn’t give up. The weather was great this summer and our experience helped to turn it around.

Magnum Hops Recap

This year was an experimental year for the Magnum hops. The first change going into this growing season was the elimination of the big tree that was near the plant and was used for the hops to climb up to their full height of 18 feet. Earlier, I wrote about the temporary trellis that I built for it, which worked ok but can be improved for next year.

The other change was my deliberate cutting back of the first shoots of the spring and allowing only 16 bines to grow to maturity. I have seen instructions on paper and online that say to cut the plant back. I don’t think I will do that again. Letting the plant grow as much as possible seems to work better than cutting it back. Now that I have tried both methods, I know what works.

I will probably get a couple of ounces from the Magnum plant. I am fine with that since they are a bittering hop and I don’t need that much to make a nice harvest ale. Next year will be a different story with an improved trellis and a live and let live strategy.

Mt. Hood Hops Recap

So this is the plant to brag about. My brother and I spent 2 hours picking cones last Saturday and I think we only harvested a third of them.

Take a look at the monster:

Hops Bines 2014

My brother watered this plant every other day for fifteen minutes. He had a soaker hose attached to a timer. People told me not to water hops plants that much. I have to say that is a silly notion. Every other day works excellently. He let all the bines reach maturity and most of them produced cones.

One of the cones was huge. Look how big it is in my hand:

Huge Hop Cone

Again, we didn’t harvest them all in one afternoon. The paper bag that I brought over to collect the cones was halfway filled when I left. Spread out on a screen to dry, this is what they looked like:

Hop Cones Drying

Ok – so you too can grow hops at home. Find a sunny spot in your yard and keep these three thing in mind.

1. Let them grow. Don’t cut them back.
2. Water them every other day.
3. Give them enough rope to climb.

Believe me, you can do it too.

I hope to have a great harvest ale brewing in the next month or two.

Kohatu Hops

If you are researching new hop varieties like me, you have come to the right place.  For the past seven years, I have been writing up hop profiles for all the varieties that interest me.

Mostly, I was unhappy with the descriptions I found online and offline.   They were short, vague, and redundant across different websites.

What I try to do is to collect as much information as I can and present as much as a well-rounded profile post as I can.

I like the new hops that have been released lately, especially the ones that are influenced by the American craft beer movement over the past 20 years.

The hops of Australia and New Zealand have most of my attention lately.  There is a large collection of these hops in my basement fridge currently and I do have plans for a Down Under IPA.  This variety is another one that is worth a full investigation.  Here is my profile of Kohatu hops.

One of the things I did find out is that these hops have Hallertauer Mittelfrüeh as a parent. I think this fact plays into a few factors with the hops’ potency.

Read more about the details of Kohatu hops:

Origin:  Named after a tiny village south of the hop-growing region of Nelson in New Zealand (not to be confused with the village of the same name in Estonia).  It also  may take its name from the Maori word meaning stone or rock. They were bred in New Zealand  and were released commercially in 2011.  They are a product of the NZ hop breeding programme.

Aroma/Flavor: Pineapple is the leading descriptor mentioned in all the sources that I read.  One went so far to state “sweaty pineapple pants”.  Pine needles, lime, and classic Hawaiian Punch flavors.

Alpha Acid: 6.0 – 6.8%

Typical Usage: With the low alpha acids, Kohatu hops are an flavor or aroma hop, added later in the boil.  The sources I read concluded that they were not as strong as the other Southern Hemisphere hops so using lots of them in your beer would not be a bad thing.

Beer Styles: Any beer that you want to showcase fruity, tropical flavors.

So the Hallertauer hop parent makes me think that this variety is a little more refined and subtle than the other Down Under hops like Nelson Sauvin or Motueka.  Kohatu may be hops to purchase if you are looking for something to try out but you are not ready for the over the top flavors of the other AU or NZ hops.

Equinox Hops

I have known about Equinox hops for a while now but they had a different name when I first read about them. The Hop Breeding Company developed the variety and before they branded it, it was known as HBC 366.  Now that they have a name and they are being sold at my local homebrew shop, I thought it made sense to write up a profile.

These hops have been hyped a bit for a year or so.  Again, it felt weird to me to post something that didn’t have its commercial name. Some breweries have brewed with them. There’s Brooklyn Brewery summer ale that is available now that uses these hops exclusively. You can surely try them out in that beer. As for me, I just order 4 ounces of Equinox hops so I can brew more fruity ales this year.

Read more about this special hop variety.

Origin: USA – a collaboration between Select Botanicals Group LLC and the John I Hass company. Originally planted in Toppenish, Washington State.

Aroma/Flavor: Lots of descriptors – lemon, lime, papayas, apples, cherries, mango, green pepper, citrus, pine.

Alpha Acid: 14.4 – 15.6%

Typical Usage: As of right now, these are definitely an aroma hop. I plan to use them in late boil additions and for dry hopping to get to know them. They do have a high alpha acid percentage so maybe you can use them in the bittering charge as well.

Beer Styles: IPAs, American ales, a modern interpretation of a pilsner

Equinox hops are a daughter of the Warrior variety. For my beer, I would bitter with the parent and have multiple additions of the child. With four ounces, I am pretty sure I can put together a simple pale ale with some clean bitterness to build that fruity hop flavor and aroma on top.

With a hop this complex, my mind starts to wander and it thinks about how it would taste in a braggot or an experimental mead (remind me to write up something about the new BJCP guidelines). Imagine a medium mead with a bit of honey sweetness at the forefront and the complex hop flavor of Equinox in the finish. It could be something someday.