The craft beer world is awash in bitterness. Hops are red hot and the passion does not seem to die down. IPAs still sell like mad and now other styles are getting hoppy too, from lagers (IPLs) to Belgian IPAs. It’s got to the point where it has been joked that the famous Westvletern would brew only IPAs from now on.
If you are in the throes of hop lust, then Hopslist is the place for you. And it can be a tremendous tool to help you make sense of all the bitterness. It can help you put a hop name with a hop flavor with a few clicks of IBU research.
Say you have a bottle of Easy Jack Session IPA from Firestone Walker Brewing. Crack it open! [Fresh is better, see Homework below.] Get a nose full of the aroma. Take a few sips. Then start jotting down some flavor descriptors. Herbal, fruit? What does it remind you of? Then head to the Hopslist website, scroll down to Mandarina Bavarian and match up your notes with what is listed. Do you get the same notes?
The experiment works best with single-hop beers but some IPAs have a dominant hop like Beachwood Brewing & BBQ’s Citraholic or Noble Ale Works‘ Double IPA series of Showers beers. After having a few, you will come to recognize a hop and know which ones you like best.
The Beer of the Week is fairly hopless, but it does celebrate. It is Anni. A merlot accented concoction from Smog City Brewing , soon to be one year old in Torrance. You can celebrate with them and their ever widening list of beers on a May 17 at their taproom. Starting at 1pm or 11am if you buy a VIP pass which includes all sorts of goodies.
Your Homework is to look at the born on dates / bottled on dates / best by dates on the next six-pack or bomber of IPA that you buy. Why? Because as little as one month will change the taste and aroma of your favorite bitter brew. This point was driven home at a sensory analysis at Firestone Walker’s Paso Robles brewery. I tasted a two-week-old Union Jack IPA against the same beer that was a month old, and then an even older bottle. The difference was dramatic. And those were the beers that had been stored cold. The same IPA stored at room temp was a whole other beer entirely. The take-away? Buy IPAs as fresh as possible and drink them.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.