If you have visited before you may have seen the recipe published here for Single Hop IPA’s. The gist of the article was as a way to understand the qualities of different varieties of hops. The flavour and aroma they impart and to build an understanding of how they in a beer.
Around the same time as publishing the recipe, I brewed a Chinook single hop beer and it has been conditioning for a few weeks. It is around this time that I like to evaluate these hoppy beers and start tasting.
I find with hoppy beers like these, there is a trade off between capturing the freshness of those volatile hop aromas and letting the beer condition and round out, after a week in the keg there is still definite green off flavours in the beer and the carbonation is still not quite there. A week is a bit too soon but after two weeks in the keg things are much better and the freshness of the hops are still right at their peak.
Tasting after two weeks in the keg or bottle, you really get to see how much hop aromas change over time. The aroma really jumps out of the glass the fresher the beer is and slowly morph or fade the longer the beer sits in the keg or bottles.
I find this to be a real issue when buying commercial IPA’s in bottles, you never really know if what you are drinking is at it’s peak. The only real indicator you have is if there is a packaging date on the bottle. Even if the beer is relatively fresh you still have issues with whether it been stored cold or if it’s sat at ambient temperature or worse yet been on a shelf near the window of a shop.
This is part of the reason why brewing IPA’s at home is so productive. As a homebrewer you are in a much better position to brew something extraordinary, in tip top condition and fresh as a daisy that is fairly difficult for the commercial brewery to deliver in the same time scale.
With all that said let’s take a look at what Chinook delivers in this IPA. I have to say that I was fairly surprised at just how this beer turned out. Tasting the Chinook in this beer gives me some plans for future beers in terms of how to pair hops for maximum effect.
Chinook IPA Tasting
Look: In my eyes this beer is beautiful. One noticeable aspect of the way this beer looks is the considerable haze, mainly due to the considerable late hops and dry hops this is fully expected. Of course you should be serving an IPA cold too so a chill haze is almost inevitable in heavily hopped beers.
I love the colour you get using a small dose of light crystal malt, it almost glows if you hold it up to the sun. The head on the beer is pure white and the carbonation is quite high so this stabilises the foam which lasts the whole way throughout drinking the beer. Plenty of lacing and this really helps the aroma too.
Smell: Overwhelming tropical fruits and pine are on the nose, I was expecting more of the spicey pine notes to dominate here but there is also bags of ripe mango on the nose. There was around 80 grams of chinook aroma hops in the last 10 minutes of the boil and then another 30 grams dry hop so I think this is why. It’s these quite large additions that give you the full spectrum of flavours and aroma from different hop varieties and this particular Chinook beer is full of pine and mango aromas.
Taste: The taste matches the aroma, bags of tropical fruits like mango along with pine and grapefruit. The taste is really fresh and juicy with just enough bitterness. The bitterness is actually fairly subdued for an IPA so the taste is slightly sweeter than I was expecting.
Feel: The body of this beer is ok, the head and foam stability is great.
Overall: I’m really pleased how this beer turned out. When using one hop only in a hoppy beer you do run the risk of having only one dimension, usually you want to pair hops by the aroma profiles, mixing fruity hops with spicy or piney hops adds complexity.
The Chinook in this IPA however is just fine being centre stage and there is enough complexity just on it’s own. Pairing Chinook with Citra to boost those mango and tropical fruit notes would work really well.
At the end of the day I now have a better understanding of exactly what Chinook as a hop can do and that is what brewing is all about, experimenting, testing and refining. That’s how you get better.