Beer is in a constant state of evolution, and hops, as an ingredient, trend according to shifting tastes and novel varieties. New strains of hops come out so often and quickly that they sometimes don’t even have a name yet, just a number. Old classic hop varieties such as Hallertauer, Fuggles, Galena and Saaz now compete with new hops with names such as Idaho 7, Denali, Apollo, Azacca, Cashmere, Jester, Lemondrop and Experimental #09326 (described as having aromas of grapefruit, tropical fruit, citrus). Today, Peaks and Pints takes a look at two of the new generation of hops — and by take a look we mean create a sample beer flight around them: Craft Beer Crosscut 6.13.17: A Flight of Idaho 7 and Denali.
The state of Idaho has two distinct hop growing areas — the sunny reaches of the high desert in the south and the somewhat damper climes of the panhandle — making the Gem State ideal for growing the pungent beer ingredient and preservative. According to USA Hops, Idaho ranks third in hop production nationwide. It provides approximately 8 percent of U.S.-grown hops and 2 percent of all hop production in the world. In southern Idaho’s Treasure Valley, the long summer days and warm weather allow for hops high in alpha acids. The higher the alpha acid percentage or rating, the more bitter the beer. In Treasure Valley sits the city of Caldwell, home of Jackson Hop Farm, birthplace of the Idaho 7 hop. In 2015, The Jackson Hop Farm folks set aside 5 acres to grow the experimental hop that sports pungent tropical fruit and citrus notes of apricot, orange, red grapefruit and papaya; flavors of resiny pine and black tea; high alpha acids for bittering.
Nuggetzilla isn’t Godzilla’s foe but rather the nickname of Hopsteiner #06277 hop, or now known as Denali. Scientists crossed Nugget hops and the son of a cross between Zeus and USDA 19058 male hops to arrive at a monster of a plant with gigantic cones and unusually high total essential oil content, averaging more than 4 grams oil/100 grams of raw hops. Oh, no, there goes light flavor, Nuggetzilla. It is quite popular with brewers who are looking for a distinct, big flavor in their beers. Denali has a big aroma that imparts pineapple with notes of citrus and pine, though it can often come off as spicy as well. It can be used for bittering, flavor, aroma or a beer flight in Tacoma’s proctor District’s bottle shop, taproom and sandwich lodge.
6.4% ABV, 57 IBU
Stoup Brewing has good manners. They always say “please” and “thank you.” “May we please have a small business administration loan to open Stoup Brewing in Ballard in October 2013?” Signing the paperwork, founders and husband-and-wife duo Brad Benson and Lara Zahaba said, “thank you.” A stream of thank yous followed after their Robust Porter grabbed a silver medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup. Sitting in Stoup’s taproom, one can hear plenty of please and thank yous, the appropriate verbiage involved when ordering the brewery’s Please and Thank You IPA. Comet and Ekuanot hops in the whirlpool and loads of Idaho 7 in the dry-hop make for a pleasing craft beer packed with aromas of berry, citrus and pine. Oh, and thanks for the balanced malt profile and a beautiful golden color. Yes, please! And thank you!
7% ABV, 72 IBU
In honor of Hellbent Brewing’s second anniversary the Seattle Lake City neighborhood brewed an “ultra premium IPA” to commemorate the event. Using obscene amounts of Amarillo hops along with a bunch of Simcoe, Citra and Denali hops this craft beer bursts with citrus followed by a pungent pine punch and finishing with mellow tropical hop aromas. This beer is brewed with Pale and Vienna malts accented with Honey malt, along with Cara 20 and Carapils malts. It is unfiltered for maximum hop flavor.
In 1993, Adam Avery’s brewed his first professional beers in a garage off an alley in Boulder, Colorado. In 1996, Avery was among the first breweries in Colorado to offer an IPA. Twenty-two years after launching Avery Brewing Co., Avery and his dad, Larry, built a $30 million production facility with the goal to brew upward of 70,000 barrels a year. Twenty-four years later, Avery brewed an imperial IPA with Idaho 7, Simcoe, Vic’s Secret and Columbus hops for notes of pineapple, mango, kumquat with edges of wood. The 9.4 percent ABV doesn’t play a major role in the flavor. Likewise, bitterness is restrained for this style.
10% ABV, 96 IBU
Wingman Brewers’ Pocket Aces 2xIPA has been retooled, dropping the ABV down two notches and replacing the five-hop bill with a rotating hop bill — most recently Eureka, Ekuanot and Denali. Utilizing the big citrus flavors and aromas of Denali hops, while balancing that citrus with the resin and piney flavors and aromas of Eureka and Ekuanot hops. Pocket packs a punch.
7.5% ABV, 100 IBU
Bear Republic Brewing has a new school IPA. Those who dig the Sonoma County, California, brewery’s Racer 5 should enjoy the mightier Hop Shovel. Hop Shovel is dry, but with a soft and rounded mouthfeel achieved by using a high proportion of wheat and rye. Hop varieties Mosaic, Meridian and Denali provide an abundance of flavor and aroma. Firm, precise aromatics dig citrus-forward at first, piling up to a roundness of tangerine and cantaloupe with hints of the tropics. Digging deeper, the flavors follow through with plump fruits, a streamlined feel and brightly bitter grapefruit and lemons.