Friday 23 April 2010

18. 50 Hop IPA

The picture above is not the Devon and Cornwall constabulary’s latest drugs haul, it’s the bags of 47 of the hops for my 50 hop IPA. The others came from bails or fresh packs and I had already wasted enough time getting this lot together!

Yes it’s here, the sexiest beer on the blog so far. Hops have always been the stars of the beer show and these days they have been elevated to a saintly status. The hop itself has been improved by selective breeding and other cutting edge biotechnological techniques. Mr Fuggle (if he ever really had anything to do with the advancement of hop cultivation) probably wouldn’t have dreamt that one day we would get to the likes of Apollo and Summit.

The development of hops has been driven by the richer (bigger) side of the brewing industry and as a result those involved have striven for higher and higher levels of alpha acid (a groups of compounds in part responsible for bitterness in beer). When first used, hops would have had an alpha acid level of around 4% max. These days modern varieties are closer to 20%, the hop equivalent to the Belgian Blue cow. This is great news for big brewers who buy the hops, get someone to chemically remove the alpha acids as a green gloop and then add this to their beers. They can buy 5 times fewer hops and get the same amount of green gloop! Why turn the hops into green gloop you ask? We buy about 30,000kg of whole hops per year. To make the same volume of beer that Sharp’s make in a year InBev would use about 500kg of green gloop (the beer would be vastly different). I’m digressing again.

As a wonderful coincidence the genes coding for compounds responsible for citrus, fruity and floral hop aromas have been carried through the breeding process with the alpha acid genes meaning that these beefcake hops also have stunning aromas. The brewer’s palette now has a much broader spectrum of colour when it comes to the contribution of the hop. Without modern hop varieties craft brewers would be castrated with regard to making hophead-friendly beers and the citrus and fruity notes which are common place these days would be unheard of.

50 hop IPA (sorry I didn’t get to 52) is a fun experiment. Brewers will no doubt question the logic behind putting the namby pamby noble hops into the ring with these steroid-fuelled monsters. What possible contribution can Hersbrucker make in amongst Centennial, Simcoe and Sorachi Ace? Probably none but you can seldom pick out all the instruments in an orchestra.

Getting the hops into the beer on this scale posed a bit of problem. 50 handfuls of hops into 60 litres of wort doesn’t go easily. I got around this by doing a standard boil with 15 (lower alpha) varieties then straining them out. I then brought the wort back to boil and added 30 more for long enough to get them wet before stopping the boil and steeping them for 2 hours. I will add 5 varieties in a tea bag to the cask.

Half the batch will be bottled with a hop cone in each bottle. I have chosen Bobek for this as it has a nice little cone which should easily fit into the neck of the bottle.

In the words of Pop from the League of Gentlemen, "Something happen today... ...something good!"

Tech Specs

Malt: Pale Ale, Crystal, Roasted Barley

Yeast: Sharp’s

OG 1065


1. Sorachi Ace
2. Liberty
3. Galena
4. Green Bullet
5. Palisade
6. Summit
7. Ahtanum
8. Apollo
9. Goldings
10. Simcoe
11. Sovereign
12. Crystal
13. Atlas
14. Junga
15. Marynka
16. Lubelski
17. Sybilla
18. Mittlefruh
19. WGV
20. Beata
21. Admiral
22. Phoenix
23. Pilot
24. Fuggles
25. Cascade
26. Brewers Gold
27. Boadicea
28. Centennial
29. Challenger
30. Willamette
31. Mount Hood
32. Hersbrucker
33. First Gold
34. Bramling Cross
35. Northdown
36. Target
37. Sonnet
38. Herkules
39. Magnum
40. Celeia
41. Cluster
42. Progress
43. Chinook
44. Pioneer
45. Bobek
46. Tryal
47. Northern Brewer
48. Perle
49. Eden
50. Nugget


Bob said...

Sounds pretty immense! How does one go about getting hold of a bottle of these special beers...?

BeerReviewsAndy said...

WOW that sounds outstanding!!! surely a hop heads wet dream!!

Dean Browne said...

That's an amazing list - I see some that I'm not familiar with over here in the USA. Do you know of a link that has descriptions of hops like Bobek and Tryal? Maybe a supplier link?

Also - did you just mix them all together or did you sort them before adding them into your wort?


Stuart Howe said...

Bob hi, Not sure yet. Will definitely be brining some to NEC for Tasting Beers Live and another blog tastings I shall be doing. I'll see how it what it tastes like. If it's out of this world I'll brew a full scale view (won't tell the accountant!)

Dean hi, If you click the link "hops" at the top right of this page and goto varieties you should get the info you are after. Tryal is a hop which is exclusive Sharp's grown in Slovenia. Like a styrian only slighly more!

ZakAvery said...

Just remember who your favourite bloggers are. That's all.

Leigh said...

I normally try to recreate beers at home in mini-all-grain set up - needless to say, this one's a non-starter!! Wow. That's ....welll....amazing. Is it going to work? And by that I mean; how do you expect it to taste and smell?

Crown Brewery said...

I would love to try that! when is the NEC thing?

Stuart Howe said...

Don't worry Zak. You shall be looked after!

It's fermenting well at the moment leigh so fingers crossed. I'm hoping it wont be too bitter. I don't want it to be acrid. Most of the hops were added as a steep or as dry hops and there is a fair amount of crystal to add sweetness to support the hops, so hopefully this will be avoided. I'm also worried that it won't be hoppy enough! It should be pure hops maybe with a touch of bitter fruit.

If you ask the lovely ladies at (link on privious post) you may even get an invite to judge the World Beer Awards Stu. The judging will be a couple of hours before I do my tasting. It's on 18th June.

Mark, said...

Woah, 50 hop varieties?! That's some orchestral beer Stuart!

Leigh said...

I see...with adding most of them as steep or dry hopping you should avoid the IBU's being too affected like you say. In fact, the more I think about it, the more that makes sense to be the only way to do it! Hope it turns out good, maybe one day I'll get to try it. 50 Hops... Madness.

Matthew Clark said...

All those old sample bags from Faram's, I can almost smell the cheese from here! ;)

BeerReviewsAndy said...

Just drinking a bottle of this, very interesting indeed!!

quite high carbonation, really well balanced, not as bitter and brutal as i thought it might be, outstanding!!

Post a Comment