No, it’s not marijuana. It’s a close cousin, known as Humulus lupulus, better known as “hops.” You know it as a key ingredient in beer, but its fat, resinous flowers are also prized for their flavor and their medicinal properties. We’re just starting to unlock the biochemical secrets of hops, and discover why this plant is so magical.
Looming hops shortages spell potential price increases for users both large and small, and people are beginning to panic. We’ve been using and trading hops for centuries, and not just for brewing beer — but it’s only now, that we’re in danger of running out, that we’re starting to understand the history of hops and its relationship with people.
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Profiled by Maria Devan for PGA
Pours a brilliant clear orange with a fat head of cream colored foam that fell pretty quickly. Nose is subtle but very floral. This type of hops has a fruity sweetness that’s hard to pin down. Most people say grapefruit and I do get a bit of pink grapefruit. I also get a mild spice. A hint of herbal dankness. The more I observe the nose the more I think I smell a stone fruitiness but it’s elusive. Peach pit maybe. Cracker for malt with a light caramel sweetness on it.
Tastes like tea. Has an overall tea like quality that even feels like tea in the mouthfeel. Crisp but not sharply so and dry. Not awfully bitter. The bitterness is gentle enough but prominent enough to be pleasant. The grapefruit is earthy but light and a bit tart. It’s easy to see why this is a popular hop to use in pale ales. The flavors are clean and light.
The overall drink is clear and not heavy or busy. The tea like qualities would make it refreshing alongside a bigger fruit taste but without it it’s subtle and dry. Mouthfeel is the lighter side of medium and the caramel was so excellent in this. It gives a bit of weight to the beer but is not excessively sweet. This one is a masterpiece in subtlety.
Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”
Maria Devan lives in Ithaca, NY and is frequent reviewer of beer and a beer lover deluxe.