We LOVE Hops

It’s a pretty redundant thing to say really, I’m sure all craft brewers think hops are pretty awesome. In fact, I’m yet to meet a fellow brewer who doesn’t inhale deeply of that sticky green goodness after it’s rubbed vigorously between one’s palms, look you in the eye, sneeze three or four times covering you in a mixture of smashed lupulin glands, mucus and small, wet pieces of dessicated hop petals and declare the greatness of the mighty Humulus lupulus.

That’s exactly what we all get together and do once a year with Paul Corbett and Will Rogers of Charles Faram, our sole hop supplier. Their team manage to source all of the hops we love from around the world. Whether it be from Slovenia, the Hallertau regions of Germany, the American Yakima Valley or the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, the Faram team provide us with an amazing selection of choice hops.

So this year saw our annual pilgrimage to sunny Worcestershire (it doesn’t rain there does it?) to get our noses stuck in. Catherine and I had already spent the weekend there staying at The Talbot at Knightwick, a mighty pub if ever there was one (you can read last year’s blog about it here) and walking around the picturesque Brockhampton Estate, so we met up with fellow Thornbridgers Stefano, JK, Andrea, Matt and Dave and it was time to sniff!

How do we get this through customs???

It’s always fascinating noticing the differences and similarites that each variety expresses and this year was no exception. Where there is a number in parentheses, this is where we smelt different batches of the same hop… amazing what subtle differences in growing and harvest conditions do to the hop aroma! Below is my aroma notes so you don’t have to annoy Charles Faram on the phone or email!!!

First Gold – citrus, sweet, perfumed

US First Gold – more delicate than UK version, more earthy and green but quite similar

Sovereign – delicate with hint of raw vegetable/carrot

Fuggles – cut grass, capers, nasturtium

Progress – citrus tending towards lemon, a hint of resin

Sonnet – woody, resinous, hint of varnished wood

Northdown – floral and a touch of resin

Goldings – a little dusty, very delicate with lemon undertones

Hallertau Hersbrucker – chocolatey and perfumed

Saaz – woody, spicey, pungent orange

Hallertau Tradition – cut grass, a touch floral

Lubelski – very delicate, a touch perfumed

Crystal – a hint of sweat, Nelson Sauvinesque, loads of aroma

Celeia – cinnamon, orange

Aurora – cut hay, lemongrass, piney

Bobek – sandalwood and citrus

Boadicea – very perfumed, cut grass, capers

Liberty – very delicate with a hint of floral

Mount Hood – dried fruit, guava, raspberries and cream

Hallertau Northern Brewer – big hop oil perfume, underlying citrus, nice and fragrant

Hallertau Mittelfruh – a hint of vinyl with floral characters

Pilgrim – Earthy, green, chocolate raisins

Target – very intense, yellow stone fruit, pineapple

Phoenix – sweet perfume, grassy, a hint of vegetal

Perle – Pina Colada, orange, pineapple and coconut

Admiral – banana, peaty and smokey

Pioneer (1) – dried fruit, some floral perfume

Pioneer (2) – More grassy and less fruity than (1)

Bramling Cross (Kent) – grapefruit, citrus, similarities to Riwaka

Bramling Cross (Herefordshire) – same character as Kent with more perfume, yet more delicate

Sorachi – coconut, mushrooms, oranges

Willamette – a little lemon, quite delicate

Cascade – a hint of resin and citrus with a little background turpentine

Ahtanum – Bergamot/Mandarin oil, very fragrant, yet delicate

Hallertau Brewers Gold – quite delicate, a touch biscuity

Herkules – lemon, banana, massive!!!

Hallertau Magnum – strongly perfumed, some citrus

Chinook (1) – sweaty, piney, fantastic

Chinook (2) – less sweaty than (1)

Chinook (3) – more floral than (1) and (2)

Centennial – lemon, herbal, citrus throughout

Amarillo – banana, grapefruit, a touch of orange

Simcoe – lemon, Sauvignon wine characters, a touch delicate

Citra – tropical, quite peachy

Pallisade – green notes, perfumed, some Allium notes

Bravo – citrus throughout with a hint of curry spice

Summit – massive citrus, chive flowers, slightly tarry

Apollo – similar to Summit but with a touch of roastiness

Lots and lots and lots of hops!!!

Another brilliant day out learning things that no book or visit to a big brand brewery will ever teach you. A word of warning though, most brewers are well aware of the soporific (that’s sleep-inducing for those too lazy to use the thesaurus option on your computer) qualities of the Hop flower, yet it doesn’t look like anyone mentioned this to Dave and Andrea…

Succumb to the Power of the Hop!

And yes, I am well aware how dodgy the photos of plastic bags filled with green vegetation look. How would you explain those photos to a drug enforcement officer!?!

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10 thoughts on “We LOVE Hops

  1. I had to explain them to the British Transport Police in Euston station after their drug dog had a positive reaction to me! That was an interesting hour!

  2. Havign read that list- and drooled all over my keyboard – the question has to be what to brew but what *not* to brew. Those descriptions have my head bursting with ideas, so goodness knows what it does to you guys!

    There’s an awesome summer beer to be had with Herkules, I reckon…

  3. Heheheh. I picked up a package of hops from the post office the other day and was walking around town with large vacuum packs of green stuff visible in my bag. Fortunately nobody tried to buy anything from me.

    • Probably bad breath or maybe they’ll just put you to sleep… No, don’t think there is, though have heard of them being used as an ingredient in herbal cigarettes, so who knows!!

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention We LOVE Hops « Thornbridge Brewers’ Blog -- Topsy.com

  5. Good read, thanks for that. Those notes will come in useful when homebrewing. I’ve got an awesome idea for those Admiral hops. Not sure I’ll be able to get my hands on them from homebrew suppliers though.

    Looking forward to you putting these to good use!

    Chunk.

  6. Pingback: Trying To Understand Hops – beer.bobarnott.com

  7. Pingback: Build a better homebrew | Boak and Bailey's Beer Blog

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