Thinking Outside the Box With Your Hop Bill

Thinking Outside the Box With Your Hop Bill

I was recently at a brewery here in British Columbia and was impressed with their interesting hop usage.  Persephone Brewing, a farm based brewery on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, made their IPA with Centennial and Cascade and their pale ale with Citra.  What I found interesting is that if you were to ask most brewers which hop would be used in which beer, most would guess that the Citra would be used in the IPA and Centennial and Cascade in the pale.

What makes this so interesting is that instead of relying on the hop’s aroma and flavor to define the style, the brewer has to work hard and really get creative with usage to make the IPA more IPA-ish than the pale ale with Citra.   The brewer needs to make the IPA stand out with traditional hops while making the pale ale a little more subdued with a bold hop like Citra.

Here at the farm, where we test brew once a week, we decided to try our own experiment.  Our go-to style is a Northeast IPA, and it is easy to default to the holy trinity of Galaxy, Citra, and Mosaic.   A few weeks ago, however, we decided to use some of the non-proprietary varieties we grow up here in British Columbia; Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook.

This brew was interesting in that we had to really work to make this come out as a North East IPA.  Our pilot brewer, Bruce, added the hops as a first wort addition, left them completely out of the boil, and then added them as a whirlpool addition, a dry hop addition during primary, and another dry hop addition in secondary.   This allowed for maximum use of the volatile oils without the bitterness that you would have picked up from adding Chinook to the boil, for example.

The finished product was delicious – the beer had a slightly more perceived bitter finish than you would normally expect from a NE IPA, but the total IBU count was still under 40 (even though no hops were added in the boil).

The takeaway for us on this experimental brew and our observations at Persephone is that you can use hops that are a little outside the box for the style, but provide the brewer with a lot more creativity and the chance to flex some mental muscle in developing a recipe that falls within the style, yet utilizes non-traditional hops.  The other awesome thing is that homebrewers or hobby farmers with their own backyard hops can use their own grown hops to create, for example, a NE IPA without having to source the hard-to-find proprietary hops.

John Briner – sales

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