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Old 10-08-2012, 01:26 PM   #1
mhenry41h
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I'm curious what the theories, successes, and failures are amongst my brewing brethren in the hop category.
I've tried so many different things over the past few years and I just hit on a combo that has me rethinking my hop pairing selection process.
If you've read my thread on my black IPA (The Stroke of Midnight), you'll see a unique pairing of Columbus, Cascade, and Styrian Goldings (in equal amounts.). This beer is, per myself and all who drink a lot of my beers, the best recipe that I've written.
Too often I taste beers from other brewers that are overbearing with just fruity hops or just dank hops, or just too much of one particular hop character and I've done it myself. This got me thinking when I wrote the recipe for The Stroke of Midnight.
The combo mentioned gives the beer a nice firm dank hop note from the Columbus, a background complexity of fruit/citrus from the Cascade, and a delicate floral/earthiness from the Styrian Goldings. All are in balance with none overpowering the essence of the beer.
In closing, I'm now inclined to write my recipes with a combo of high alpha dank hops, a fruity mid alpha hop, and a lower alpha refined hop. All flavors are present, all are in good balance, and used in equal proportions, all tie together with a wonderful complexity that makes it a challenge to discern what hops are in there. (the use of Kolsch yeast in an IPA at low 60's also makes the combo pop) if you want to see what I mean first hand, look up my recipe for The Stroke of Midnight, brew it, and get back to me!)

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Old 10-08-2012, 01:40 PM   #2
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I'm now inclined to write my recipes with a combo of high alpha dank hops, a fruity mid alpha hop, and a lower alpha refined hop.
This mindset will not work for every style of beer and recipe design.

You're better off knowing your ingredients and using your own experience and senses + third part opinion to find out their attributes and what makes them different.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:03 PM   #3
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This mindset will not work for every style of beer and recipe design.

You're better off knowing your ingredients and using your own experience and senses + third part opinion to find out their attributes and what makes them different.
You're right, I should have said that I like this method for IPA style beers. I certainly wouldn't want to do this in a Belgian or a malt forward style.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:10 PM   #4
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Even so, the recipe as a whole will matter. You're not always going to use a clean American 2-row base with clean Cali or Kolsch ale yeast fermented in the low 60s so that you can detect the subtle traits in a balance from all three of those hop families.

If you were to do that, it still comes down to what you personally prefer in terms of flavor/aroma in an IPA. Not everyone wants a complete balance of grassy, fruity, citrus, floral, tropical, earthy, pine, dank and resiny.... some of us just want straight up dank pine.

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Old 10-08-2012, 02:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Even so, the recipe as a whole will matter. You're not always going to use a clean American 2-row base with clean Cali or Kolsch ale yeast fermented in the low 60s so that you can detect the subtle traits in a balance from all three of those hop families.

If you were to do that, it still comes down to what you personally prefer in terms of flavor/aroma in an IPA. Not everyone wants a complete balance of grassy, fruity, citrus, floral, tropical, earthy, pine, dank and resiny.... some of us just want straight up dank pine.
You're dead right. Not everybody is going wants completely balanced. This is what I prefer for my taste and I completely agree that not everybody is going to like the same thing. I personally like a balance between all aspects of a beer with nothing "standing out" so to speak. My taste preferences are for complexity and balance. My idea of a great IPA is a firm bitterness, with slightly more malt character than the more traditional all balanced with complex layers of hop characters that aren't easy to pick out. Some people definitely prefer more one dimensional flavors and lord knows that there isn't anything wrong with that! I've got an "artistic" approach to recipe writing as I prefer complexity but some people clearly are sometimes shooting for something simple. To each their own.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:51 PM   #6
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Some people definitely prefer more one dimensional flavors and lord knows that there isn't anything wrong with that! I've got an "artistic" approach to recipe writing as I prefer complexity but some people clearly are sometimes shooting for something simple. To each their own.
Just be careful... Sometimes simplicity can yield the most complexity. Messing with things up too much can yield very muddled, boring results. It's like that phrase, "Less is More."

For your tastes, I would recommend experiementing with New Zealand hops. They share the some traits of Noble, European and Pacific West Coast hops at the same time.
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Old 10-08-2012, 02:54 PM   #7
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I like your line of thinking. I was just starting to get to this point myself. I have not experienced the three hop combo you cite here but there is definitely something to the idea of balancing a fruity hop with a spicy or dank one. It's like the "salty-sweet" combo in foods. Yin and yang. Yes this would be most applicable to american style hop-forward pales and IPA's for the most part, but that's what I like the most anyway.

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Old 10-08-2012, 03:20 PM   #8
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I like your line of thinking. I was just starting to get to this point myself. I have not experienced the three hop combo you cite here but there is definitely something to the idea of balancing a fruity hop with a spicy or dank one. It's like the "salty-sweet" combo in foods. Yin and yang. Yes this would be most applicable to american style hop-forward pales and IPA's for the most part, but that's what I like the most anyway.
I took this path when the past few IPA's that I've brewed seemed to lack something. They were good but almost too fruity. The Simcoe, Amarillo, & Sorachi Ace combo got good reviews but for me, it needed something more which is what lead me to the dank/fruit/spice combo idea. So far, two thumbs up.
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:00 PM   #9
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So what are your top few hops in each category of spice and funk?

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Old 10-08-2012, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
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So what are your top few hops in each category of spice and funk?
Dank: Chinook/Columbus/Nugget

I wouldn't necessarily say the 3rd hop is "spicy" per se, but more, I hesitate to say "noble-ish," lets say...more traditional? Anywho, here are the ones I like: Styrian Goldings, Willamette, Glacier, Fuggle, Perle
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