We have received requests from our readers/viewers for us to review new hop varieties from France. Coincidentally enough, a few of these hops made a top ten list of new hops to brew with, which I am using to guide my SMaSH brewing.
It’s nice when homebrewing stars align, if you catch my drift (or draft).
The first of a few French varieties we will be examining is Barbe Rouge hops. That’s Red Beard hops for you that didn’t take French in high school. Watch this video to learn more about our take on this SMaSH beer.
SMaSH Beer Format
Just in case you haven’t seen one of these SMaSH beer tastings before, let us run down the process. All the SMaSH beers we brew (unless specified as being different) are 1 US gallon (3.78 L) batches. With 2 pounds of some base malt (typically pilsner or pale malt), one ounce of hops is used during the brew process to showcase the hops. The additions generally follow this schedule:
1st hop addition – 1/4 of an ounce or 7 grams – 15 minutes to go in the boil
2nd hop addition – 5/8 of an ounce or 14 grams – Flameout
3rd hop addition – 1/4 of an ounce or 7 grams – Day 3 of fermentation
After mashing at 150°F or 66°C with 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water for 1 hour and boiling for 1 hour, fermentation happens over the course of 10 days at 68°F (20°C) using SafAle US-05 yeast (about a third of the packet or a little less than 4 grams)
As we enjoyed this beer, we were able to detect the berry flavors that are a part of the descriptors we’ve read on the internet. There was an earthy element in the flavor and aftertaste which Mike thought was reminiscent of avocados. The one big takeaway for us was that the flavors were delicate. They worked well in a SMaSH format but we wondered how much they would stand out if brewed with other hops.
Late additions, primarily dry hopping, would work best for Barbe Rouge hops. They may pair well with hops that have strong tropical fruit flavors like Sabro or go all in on the berry profile and brew them with Rakau hops.