Beer Quotes & Wisdom

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline-it

helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear

weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. -- Frank Zappa

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alpha Acid Test - A Hoppy Event

My Daughter, her husband (coolcliff), and I attended a beer tasting event at Lafayette Brewing Company yesterday. The format was an interesting one. Ten beers were on hand, all identical with one small exception. All ten beers used in the tasting event were brewed in a single batch using a single 60 minute addition of Chinook hops. The resulting beer had 60 IBU's, and I would have classified it as an IPA. That single batch was then split into ten separate batches. All ten batches were fermented under the same conditions using the same yeast, same temperatures, same time. Every effort was made to make all ten batches of beer identical. Sound like an interesting tasting event? Ah, but it was!

The only difference between the 10 batches of beer was what hops were used in a dry hop. The amount (by weight) of hops used in the dry hop was equal in all cases (3 oz. per firkin or if the beer would be served from a half keg, 4 oz. - roughly equivalent.) One of the beers had no dry hop at all, but instead served as the "control". Six of the ten beers were served from firkins, the remaining four from kegs. The hops used in the dry hopping which were served from kegs included Centennial, Chinook, Warrior, and Amarillo. The "base" beer was also served from keg. Served from firkins were a couple of hops I wasn't at all familiar with, along with a few old favorites. The unfamiliar hops in the firkins included Saphir, First Gold, and Ceria. The more familiar hops included Czech Saaz, Styrian Golding, and U.S. Fuggle.

Now for the tasting. The beers were set up so samples would be drawn first from the base beer, and then progressing toward beer with more intense hop notes. The last three beers in the sampling line were in order Warrior, Chinook, and finally Centennial. As I am a fan of citrusy, intense hop flavors I preferred the "end of the line" hops. The Chinook hopped beer was my favorites. The hops used in the firkins imparted much more subtle aromas, good, just not what I expect in an IPA. I have to admit I was unimpressed with the First Gold, Ceria, and Saphir hopped beers, perhaps because I was expecting, or perhaps hoping for, more intense citrusy notes.

I was somewhat surprised the event was not more well attended. Perhaps 40 beer fans participated, and I suspect most of those were THC members. The event might have been better suited to homebrewers hoping to gain an appreciation for the subtleties of various hop varieties rather than those who are simply beer consumers. That might have limited the participation somewhat. The servers were absolutely awesome, knowledgeable and friendly. Serving was quick with only short waits. Pizza and a couple of other snacks were served and were tasty as well. The room was spacious and comfortable with LBC's typically worn decor.

The bottom line was that the event was educational for me and I drank a lot of good beer. If another event like this were held I would be likely to attend.


  1. It sounds like a much more controlled version of our Big Brew this year. It would have been very interesting to attend.

  2. Can you describe the base beer and the dry hopped Chinook version (your favorite I think). I always hear that Chinook can have a harsh bitterness if over used.

  3. The base beer was 60 IBU with all bitterness and no nose. It wasn't unpleasant, but certainly had no note. Harsh might be a good way to describe it.

    The dry hopped Chinook version was very grapefruity, a quality I didn't detect in the base beer. It is interesting that most of the beers seemed to have a much milder bitterness than the base beer, even the dry hopped Chinook version. The tongue and nose do tricky things.

    I have to check with coolcliff and make sure the base beer was a Chinook hopped ale. I was after all tasting loooot's of beer. But I think I'm correct.

  4. Yes Chinook were the bittering hops. I'm guessing here but i think the base was a take on their Weeping Hog IPA, which is their typical cask-conditioned offering, minus any mid-late hops until the dryhops. Not sure it was 60 IBU, maybe 40, but either way not too harsh, but rather plain like Tom said.

    The lower alpha dryhops were a little too subtle for my taste. But the higher alpha hops certainly made a big difference in the final beer, each with enough complexity to be very good. They still lacked the flavor you would get from a 5-15 minute addition of hops of course, but proved to me that dryhopping would certainly be worth the effort in our brews.


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