I have always felt that the descriptions of hops often don't match my expectations of what I should get in the final beer. Some of that has to do with the amount hops, freshness, the recipe, but I also think one person's description may differ greatly from another's.
A while back, I saw a post from Anchor Brewing about adding hops to a packaged light lager in order to obtain a profile of a new hop. What a great idea! I have done off flavor tasting in a similar manner, but never thought about doing it with hops.
A quick review of freezer to see what hops I wanted to play with and I decided on the following hops:
- El Dorado 15.3% AA (candy like, fruity notes, specifically tropical fruit flavors. Other fruit notes offered have been pear, watermelon candy and stone fruit)
- Galaxy 13% AA (citrus and passion fruit)
- Mosaic 11.5% AA (earthy, grassy, herbal, citrus, cedar, tropical, spice and stone fruit notes adding to the pine-based pungency)
- Flaconer's Flight 11.4% AA (A blend of Pacific North West hops with tropical, citrus, floral, lemon, and grapefruit tones)
- Rakau 12.7% AA (Fresh orchard fruits, specifically apricot with some resinous pine needle characteristics are noted)
I put 1 gram of hops in each bottle. The Bud Light bottle are screw caps, but I had no problem getting a good seal when recapping the bottles. My scale was having a hard time hitting that 1 gram, so a also did a visual measurement as well. I picked 5 hops that are known for having an interesting aroma profile and I left 1 bottle with no additional hops and used that for the base beer/pallet cleanser.
The hops were in the bottle for 1 week. 3 days at room temperature and 4 days in the refrigerator. I did have to agitate the bottles for the first 3 days just to get the hops not to clump at the neck of the bottle.
The base beer was Bud Light. I don't remember having a Bud Light before, but I was surprised how clean it was and how much “cider” qualities it had.
- Aroma – Slight spice, pine and a general sweetness.
- Taste – Candy flavors, sweet and melon.
- Thoughts – This hop would work very nice in a Wit or a Blond.
- Aroma – Heavy tropical fruit.
- Taste – Tropical fruit with a slight bitterness.
- Thoughts – This would work well in any Pale, IPA or hop forward beer. This would make a great single hop beer.
- Aroma – Slight tropical fruit and general sweetness.
- Taste – Wow, this was all over the place. General bitterness with vegetable (garlic/onion) and even a little melon.
- Thoughts – Not really sure about this one, but as a single hop I think it would be interesting. Maybe a Pilsner or Lager. Would work in an IPA as long as is wasn't in too much competition with fruitier hop flavors.
- Aroma – Citrus, but not as much aroma as I would expect.
- Taste – General bitterness, grapefruit, slight vegetable and very dank.
- Thoughts – Any hop forward beer like a IPA
- Aroma – Musty vegetable (garlic/onion)
- Taste – Slight vegetable
- Thoughts – I would not use this as a single hop. Might be best used as a bittering hop. I don't think I would ever use this hop for aroma (again).
Keep in mind these tasting notes are my own, you might try the same beer and get a different conclusion (that's part of the fun). It is a cheap and easy way to learn hop profiles. It would be a great way to combine 2 or 3 hops into one bottle to get a better idea of blended dry hopping. On my next brew day, I'm going to pick up a few bottles of Bud Light and try a few dry hopping combos. By the time I'm ready to dry hop I will have tried each of the trial bottles and then should be able to replicate that dry hop profile I was shooting for.
You could really build a comprehensive hop profile log if you got together with 4 or 5 friends, each picking 6 different hops to use. In one week, you could easily try 30 or more different dry hop variations.
Give it a try.