Last night, March 5th 2008 was the second session of the Avery Insider Tasting Series.  It was moderated by C.V. Howe (marketing), Matt “Hand Truck” Thrall and Andy Parker (brewers).   The tasting was designed to educate us on the flavor profiles  of various hop varietals, inform us of the different methods that brewers use to extract those flavors from the hops, and showcase the effects of time on hop flavor.

Flight 1:

Avery IPA – Distributed to 30 states. Piney due to use of Columbus.  Aroma from CTZ (Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus).  3 Hop additions – bittering at 1 hour, flavoring at 30 minutes, aroma at flame out.

Avery IPA dry-hopped with Bullion hops – English hops used in Out of Bounds Stout, Jubilation, and Ellies Brown Ale.   My perception was very sharp bitterness.  It would pair well with chocolate.  Not a great variety for dry hopping.  Cloudy due to protein haze.

Avery IPA dry-hopped with Centennial hops.  Larger nose, citrusy, grapefruit.  Cloudy due to protein haze.  Dry hop cold  (35F) in keg.

Avery IPA dry-hopped with CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk and Zeus).  CTZ is considered one variety of hop under different names.  It’s the principle aroma hop for Avery IPA.  Very intense nose (pungent, grassy, dank).  Cloudy due to protein haze.

Flight 2:

Salvation Belgian Golden Ale – clear in color.  Classic belgian ale aroma, spicy white pepper character.  High esters with alcoholic nose and alcohol warming.  This is a FANTASTIC beer!  Mostly hopped with Styrian Goldings hop, perhaps for the last time.  One third of the crop was destroyed by hail.  Apparently the farms are being repurposed and the crop may not be grown in large enough quantities to export.  So drink up and enjoy Salvation now – it may be reformulated in the future, perhaps with Sterling hops.

Salvation Belgian Golden Ale dry-hopped with Centenial and Cascade hops – almost no noticeable nose.  Alcoholic phenols, fruity bubble gum, musty nose.  I think the addition of the hops degraded this beer from a great belgian beer to tasting like a standard american craft beer.  The dry-hopping caused cloudiness.

Flight 3:

2008 Maharaja Imperial IPA – This was kegged beer vs. bottled.  Higher SRM, huge hop nose, floral, biting alcoholic taste, residual bitterness.  Another fantastic beer.

2007 Maharaja Imperial IPA – bottled.  Large head, big bubbles, white foamy head.  Big nose.  Plant earthiness.  Caramel flavors.  More chill haze then 2008 – apparently the proteins have more time to coagulate.

2008 Cask Conditioned Maharaja Imperial IPA – Protein haze/coagulation, big nose.  This beer was very smooth.  Reduced carbonation/carbonic acid resulted in reduced bitterness.  Caramel character.  Cask was stainless steel.  This was a great beer.

Notes: Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to the primary fermenter, the maturation tank or to kegged beer to increase aroma and hop character of the finished beer.  It does not significantly effect the IBU’s of the beer.

Final Beer: The Big Boy! Quadruple dry hopped (2 pounds of dry hops in the keg) with Centennial, Simcoe and Crystal.  Not overly bitter.  Highly alcoholic.  Chill haze present.  Earthy.  Okay – by this point and time in the evening, it took a huge beer to make an impression. This beer did.  I can taste the hops now just thinking about it.

Next ITS – Vertical tasting featuring Samael’s Oak Aged Ale!  See you there.