The Humulus Olfactory Project

Beer, a liquid of hundreds of flavour molecules, has intrigued our senses for generations. An incredible feat for a product with only four ingredients. Leaving the complexity of water chemistry where it belongs (to the side), hops, malt and even yeast have hundreds of iterations to choose from. Mediated by time, temperature and the skill of the brewer, there is, therefore, an almost infinite array of possible beers to be made.

With the modern, insatiable thirst for hop flavour, the industry has cultivated over 100 unique varietals. This is exacerbated by the intriguing terroir of hops, where the same varietal grown in three distinct regions around the world will yield three distinct hop flavour profiles.

What have we done…

The most enjoyable way to learn about hop flavours is to drink beer. So, we have selected four, exciting, newly developed varietals from four major hop growing regions, and used them over the exact same beer base. The beer, a Strong Pale Ale, allows a robust framework for the full expression of these hops. The hops were added during the Boil, at Whirlpool, and twice for the Dry Hop. Malts were selected to simply promote the hop profile, with Barret Burston Pale malt and Simpsons Golden Naked Oats providing a mouth-coating body to handle the hop load. Bry97 was the yeast used for the beers, a neutral fermenter with low esters and quick VDK cleanup.

Hop compounds can basically be broken down into two fractions; bitterness and flavour. Bitterness is derived primarily from the alpha-acids while the oil content that gives flavour is comprised of hundreds of molecules, such as terpenes. Every hop varietal has a unique alpha acid concentration and oil fraction concentration, and these can oscillate slightly from harvest to harvest.

 

Meet the HOPS

 

HPA-016 from Australia

A cross of Australian and American breeds, HPA-016 is fruity; with orange zest, citrus and grapefruit elements, but also has a strong herbal and pine-needle character. High in alpha acids and with moderate oil content, it can be used on both hot and cold sides of beer production. We have used this hop in both single-hop and multi-hop recipes over the last six months, with intriguing results.

First bred way back in 2004, HPA-016 is set to be released commercially in 2021 (yes, that is how long it takes to commercialise a hop variety). After years of trials, both agricultural and in brewing, HPA-016 has been the focus of Hop Products Australia development program for the last two decades.

Hort-4337 from New Zealand

Hort 4337 has intense tropical fruit characters of pineapple, passionfruit, guava and ripe melon. It works best, late on the hot side, or during dry hopping. Moderately high in both alpha acid and oils, it is perfect for hop forward beers, from Pale Ales to DIPAs.

A sister varietal to Waimea, Hort-4337 was developed in Nelson, by NZ Hops. Also first bred in 2004, it is, coincidently, also set to be commercialised in 2021.

Zappa from USA

An incredibly versatile hop, Zappa displays flavours of mango, papaya, pineapple, orange, grapefruit, melon, and guava with hints of white pepper and mint. Breaking the mould of modern American hops, this varietal is low in alpha acid but high in oils.

Bred by Todd Bates from a wild hop found growing in Mexico, this is really a unique experience in modern hops. Todd was also responsible for naming the hop because “I wanted a hop to kick ass like an American Musician”.

Ariana from Germany

Renown for its unique blackcurrant, grapefruit, tropical fruits and vanilla profile, Ariana is a moderately high alpha acid (bitterness) hop, with high oil content. You may even sense hints of wood and tobacco, giving a totally unique perspective on hop flavour.

Developed by the Hop Research Centre in Hull, Germany, Ariana is a cross between Herkules and a wild male. It is specifically admired for its Dry Hopping character.

The project begins with Brew Day