Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 5.25.17: A Flight of Saaz

Ron Swarner


Peaks-and-Pints-Tacoma-Beer-FlightOne of the four “noble” hops (meaning a race of wildly occurring hops which are low in bitterness and high in aroma), Saaz hops are extremely popular in Bohemian style beer and are the main hop component of the Czech pilsner. As a noble hop, rather than being bred, Saaz has been growing naturally in the Czech Republic for centuries and was named after the city of Žatec (Saaz in German) where it was originally found. With such a low Alpha Acid content, Saaz are almost exclusively used for aroma and not bittering. Though quite mild and delicate, Saaz hops impart a distinct earthy, herbal and spicy flavor to beer that has come to define the Pilsner. Its unique taste, high yield, and resistance to mildew has made Saaz one of the more popular and sought-after hops in the world. More recently, an American variety of Saaz hops are being grown in the US, but with a higher Alpha Acid content than the original Czech cultivar. Today, Peaks and Pints salutes the hops with beer flight we like to call Craft Beer Crosscut 5.25.17: A Flight of Saaz.

Sierra-Nevada-Summerfest-TacomaSierra Nevada Summerfest

5% ABV, 28 IBU

The Sierra Nevada Summerfest is made with 2-row pale and Munich malts and Perle and Saaz hops. A crisp summer lager that has been around for more than 15 years, the Sierra Nevada Summerfest also lets you know that you’re drinking a real beer. With a full flavored tang hop kick, this pilsner style lager is another classic from Sierra Nevada. With light malts and light hops and spice, the crisp big bubbles make an excellent refreshing summertime lager.  The lemon and malt aftertaste are very well balanced making this one of our favorite summer beers. Less-experienced drinkers may find the hoppy finish a tad too bitter, but they’ll come around.

Snoqualmie-Falls-Spring-Fever-TacomaSnoqualmie Falls Spring Fever

6% ABV, 32 IBU

The Snoqualmie Falls Spring Fever, a Belgian-style Grand Cru, is brewed with Two-Row, Munich, Carastan and Belgian Aromatic malts, Columbus and Czech Saaz hops, Belgian Ale yeast and coriander. This year’s version has a spicy finish, nice malt structure and slight hop bitterness. Bonus: The Spring Fever label artwork has a reddish-orange color scheme and a picture of a robin. It should have its own float in today’s parade.


8.5% ABV, 33 IBU

Duvel Moortgat’s Belgian is considered the archetype of the Belgian strong golden ale category. The yeast — the fruity esters, imparts the distinctive characteristics of any Belgian beer and spicy phenols created during fermentation are the major draw for drinkers. Anyone looking for these traits in Duvel will not be disappointed. Duvel is brewed with Pilsner malt and dextrose, and hopped with Saaz and Styrian Golding, the yeast still stems from the original culture of Scottish yeast bought by Albert Moortgat during a business tour of the U.K. just after World War I. The nose is an equal, subtle blend of white pepper, coriander, tangerine peel, and pear juice; the flavor mixes spice rack stuff (coriander, clove, and white pepper) with sweet blasts of pears and apples before a slightly drying, bread-y finish.

Ommegang-Bend-the-Knee-TacomaOmmegang Bend the Knee

9% ABV

When fans last gripped their glasses at the end of Game of Thrones’ sixth season, the great houses of Westeros were on the brink of an epic conflict. Cersei had ascended to the Iron Throne as the first queen of Westeros, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark had just reclaimed the North, and Daenerys Targaryen had set sail for the Seven Kingdoms. To commemorate the coming mêlée in the Emmy Award-winning show’s epic seventh season, Brewery Ommegang and HBO Global Licensing released new beer in their collaborative series: Bend the Knee Golden Ale. Paying homage to the struggle for control of the Seven Kingdoms, Bend the Knee is brewed with pils malt and flaked oats and hopped with Saaz, Bravo, and Styrian Golding hops. It pours a golden hue with a large, frothy head. Both the aroma and flavor mix maltiness and citrus from the hops, while Ommegang’s signature house yeast produces prominent fruitiness. Wildflower honey added during fermentation provides light sweetness to the beer, which finishes dry and with firm hop bitterness.

Fort-George-1811-Lager-TacomaFort George 1811 Lager

5.1% ABV

Fort George brewed this lager in honor of Astoria, Oregon’s bicentennial, with lager yeast at warmer-than-average temperatures, which would make it, technically, a steam beer. Hopped with both Saaz and Centennial, the flavor is bready malts and a touch of caramel sweetness that carries light pear and lemon notes down the middle of the tongue; rustic, woody hops handily contrast the bright fruit. Sure sounds like a steam beer to Peaks and Pints! If you’re a fan of Anchor or even Dogfish Head’s My Antonia imperial pilsener, then you’ll probably be happy with this one.