Alpha Hop Trial: Topaz

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Alpha Hop Trial: Topaz

Post by seymour » Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:49 pm

As conscientous brewers, it's essential for us to sample beers brewed with a single hop variety. There is no better way to educate our palate to each hop's unique bitterness, flavour, and aroma traits. Obviously, different hops behave differently in different beer. Noted author Stan Hieronymous reminds us that when we isomerize hops in boiling wort, we set in motion complex chemical reactions which continue into the fermentation stage. It's easy to forget hops are in fact a fermentable ingredient. This is why we cannot get a full understanding of what hops will bring to finished beer by simply smelling a handful of hops, making quick-and-easy hop teas, or even dry-hopping alone. If we take a moment to record our thoughts about each hop, we can more effectively blend our favourite traits from different hop varieties into a winning recipe of our own design.

With so many different hops available these days, it's impossible for each homebrewer to brew all of them single-handedly. Jim's Beer Kit is a great place to read what worked for other homebrewers, but it's especially handy when commercial brewers do this "dirty-work" for us. I taste every single-hop beer I can find, and post ratings to Ratebeer, which serves as a handy online resource whenever I need to remember my impressions of a certain hop. It occured to me these thoughts might benefit other nerdy homebrewers on this forum too.

Disclaimer: these are my own subjective opinionated conclusions, based on just one sample, at one specific moment in time. I am frequently surprised by how much another brewer's results differ, even using the same single hop variety. Your mileage may vary, and I certainly don't think my taste buds are superior to anyone else's.

From my Ratebeer rating of Alpha Topaz Pale Ale
Aroma: 6 out of 10, Appearance: 3 out of 5, Taste: 7 out of 10 , Palate: 4 out of 5, Overall: 14 out of 20

Total Score: 3.4 out of 5

Tasted on tap at the brewery tasting room. It poured a nice light golden amber colour with a little chill haze, weak off-white foam and a little lace. Due to extremely high demand, there is a shortage of Cascades hops so suppliers are recommending Topaz as a substitute. Huh? That’s crazy talk, Topaz is NOTHING like Cascade. Even so, Topaz makes for a pleasant APA in its own right: grassy, fruity, hints of melons and other tangy fruits, shares some resiny characteristics with Mosaic and Simcoe. An easy-drinking pint, with a little more complexity than typical grapefruity APAs. Topaz is apparently one of the few hops with adequete bitterness, flavour and aroma all by itself.

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