So back last year we acquired a hop loft full of hops following our visit out to BrewCon. Chief amongst the hoard were Yakima Hops Cryohop blend. We divvied up the hops and agreed to bring back beers using them to compare in February. So here we were and we lined up the brews while welcoming a new member into our fold.
With nine beers to get sample it was always going to be a good evening and we had a bit of variety away from hoppy ales as well to finish the night off. Half a dozen hop experimental beers first and then a real mix to finish the evening off.
We welcomed new member Malcolm along and were suitably impressed with photos of his RIMS set up built from kegs during lockdown. Especially impressive was the counterflow tube-in-tube heat exchanger. Nice work. It was good to discuss some of the issues he was seeing with the beers being brewed and hopefully identifying the off flavour as phenolic and using the beer fault guide and experience in the room we’ve, hopefully, given some thoughts on how to fix it.
It was also good to welcome John back after a while and he brought some beers for the end.
So how did the beers compare? Let’s get analytical and build a table. What I wouldn’t give for a lovely Venn diagram though….
|Cryohop & Talus
|A 4.1% GF beer based on Millet, Quinoa, Buckwheat and Amaranth. A clean beer but very low hop aroma. An odd aroma that we put down to the first appearance of Amaranth in a beer, but it didn’t follow through to the taste.
|This beer had quite a sweet flavour that could have had more bitterness to balance it out a bit. The aromas were very sweet as well with mentions of toffee, sweet fruits and confectionary.
|Cryohop & HBC586
|We have hops! Fruity passionfruit and grapefruit aroma however due to a freezer issue the beer itself was a little thin maybe because of a freezer issue repeating the Eisbock fiasco.
|Cryohop, Amarillo & bittered with Challenger
|A lovely pop indicating an brilliantly conditioned beer on opening, this poured like a traditional English IPA and would have been better suited to Traditional hops. The exotic fruitiness of these hops could have been improved by using the more earthy, floral English hops.
|Eukanot & Idaho 7
|An out of spec beer in terms of strength – 6.5% – meant for a great beer. Full bodied and a little darker than Alan’s again this felt like a full on traditional English IPA. There was faint hop aroma but this is a beer that works excellently for a dark cold January night. Again – more traditional hops perhaps?
|Cryohop & HBC586
|Houston we have hops. Again the fruity aroma shines through in this out of spec beer (Inaugural brew on new Brewzilla kit – so getting the efficiency right). The bottles conditioned beers showed the US-05 yeast welded to the bottom of the bottles. Something we’d earlier had a discussion on the pros & cons of this yeast. Another dark English IPA style in appearance and a great beer. Maybe this should be a style we all explore in the future.
All in all we were quite disappointed in the lack of hoppiness we encountered from these Cryohop blends. It seems blending with the HBC586 works well for the aroma and also dry hopping into still fermenting beer – looking for biotransformation – gave improved aromas. That seems to be the key to getting the best out of this blend.
We also had some additional beers to round off the night John brought in two beautifully labelled beers a Yuzu Saison and a Russian Imperial stout. The saison had really great typical saison aroma and the citrus of the added yuzu really came through in the flavour. In order to get more on style the carbonation could have been increased quite significantly. The use of a carbonation calculator like the one linked here would have helped for priming the bottles.
The Russian imperial stout felt like a perfect beer to end the night on. Really well conditioned and carbonated. Sweet and strong – a shoe in for the Old Windsor competition – a really impressive beer with the sticky toffee pudding flavour lingering on the palate after tasting.
We really cocked up though – we should have finished on the intense flavours of the stout but then remembered Owen’s pressure fermented lager. This placing in the taste order probably did it no favours as it was hard to pick out any flavours. That said in a lager like this subtlety is exactly what you’re going for. Maybe some faint ester flavours complementing lightness of the body worked well and the bitterness was balanced perfectly to give the beer a lift. The pressure fermentation keeps the yeast in control even at high temperatures for a lager yeast.
As ever a great evening and we agreed the March theme. Something dark…