Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hop 101 (in a Sam Adams box) - part 2

Okay, so we can check East Kent Goldings [√] and Ahtanum [√] off our beery list. Earthy and mellow versus pine/citrus and potent, that seems to be how thing are going to play out. Even this point in the game it's amazing to see how much difference there can be between each beer. The whole thing reminds me of great barbecue. Every pit master his or her own special spice blend, dry rub or marinade—made from every ingredient under the sun—but they all have that one thing, that one magical element that sets their barbecue apart. Some add stuff like Dr. Pepper, pickle juice, Greek seasoning or some other unique touch—mine's coffee, by the way (Crap! now I have to kill all of you.) Leave that one thing out, and it changes the whole shebang—and sometimes that one thing can be the difference between good and great. All right, enough about barbecue, lets get back to the beer!

Next up: Latitude 48 IPA: Hallertau Mittelfrüh and Latitude 48 IPA: Zeus.

Latitude 48 IPA: Hallertau Mittelfrüh
Alpha Acid Units: 3.5% to 5%
Growing Area: The Hallertau Region, Bavaria, Germany

Hops in the Hallertau.
Another grandaddy, Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops have been grown in southern Germany for centuries. These hops are among the original German lager "noble" hops—and that shows in this incarnation of Lat 48. This version has a slight lemony, hayish and a decidedly German lager-like aroma. On the taste, it's barely spicy with a hint of black pepper. Its smooth and very mellow. What's really amazing about this hop is, how it cuts-off the sweet malt edge. This beer is not particularly hoppy and it's not overly bitter, but the Hallertaus seem to mysteriously counteract any residual sweetness. This really is one of the most lager-like ales I've ever had—from Samuel Adams or anyone else for that matter. Again, not sure it's an IPA, but pretty good anyhow.

Mid-summer Yakima Valley hops.
Latitude 48 IPA: Zeus
Alpha Acid Units: 13% to 17%
Growing Area: The Yakima Valley, Washington State, U.S.A

Yeowzah—This is a hop lovers hop! This is the second of three hop varieties grown in the Pacific Northwest, that are used in Latitude 48. The Americans do not disapoint with this hop, when it comes to hoppy effectivness. This one has an intense pine and orange aroma that just lets the tiniest bit of malty caramel slip through. Its sharp and crisp on the tongue with a sweet plum and tart mango quality. While its pine flavor isn't as powerful as a hop variety like Chinook, it's still quite noticeable, although in balance with the grain bill. Its bitterness, however is forecful—bordering on agressive. It hits you as soon as it gets to your tongue and it stays with you through the swallow and well after. The hop is named after the king of all Greek gods, is it the king of hops? I'm saying no, but that doesn't mean it's not powerful.

Look at that, were in the final stretch. All that's left is Latitude 48 IPA: Simcoe and the original.

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