Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau

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seymour
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Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau

Post by seymour » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:43 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 Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau
Aroma: 8 out of 10, Appearance: 4 out of 5, Taste: 8 out of 10 , Palate: 4 out of 5, Overall: 18 out of 20

Total Score: 4.2 out of 5

Tasted on tap at Bottleworks into a nonic half-pint. It poured a nice amber colour with everlasting white head, spritzy little bubbles and lots of Belgian lace. Aromas of berry fruit, strawberry shortcake, smokey, resiny, woodsy, mellow but outrageously flavorful. Flavour was nutty, biscuity, light grainy sweetness with faint apricot, perfectly ripened plums, golden raisins, gingerbread crackers--and I swear--peppermint and bubblegum. Medium body and carbonation, very well-rounded bready mouthfeel and lingering caramelly bittersweet aftertaste (odd since it contains no caramelized malts.) I’ve had all the Schlafly hop trials so far. Rakau is by far the most surprising so far, and my favorite. I went back for a growler fill, and hope to get more before it’s gone. I didn’t expect to rate a single hop trial so highly.

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Re: Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau

Post by seymour » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:03 pm

Rakau remains one of my all-time favourite hops. Besides this Schlafly hop trial, I've also tasted it in Schlafly Dry Hopped Farmhouse Ale, Summit Saga IPA, and my own twist on Jim's ESB.

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Re: Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau

Post by Clibit » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:11 pm

seymour wrote:Rakau remains one of my all-time favourite hops. Besides this Schlafly hop trial, I've also tasted it in Schlafly Dry Hopped Farmhouse Ale, Summit Saga IPA, and my own twist on Jim's ESB.
It doesn't get talked about much does it? Or seen. It's a bit different from the crowd, I suppose.

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Re: Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau

Post by seymour » Fri Apr 08, 2016 9:57 pm

Last night, Stan Hieronymous and I talked about New Zealand hops (that's a fun sentence, I won't lie). He said the secret is out about Riwaka and it's become almost impossible for brewers to get worldwide because of short supplies and super high demand, and that it will remain so for years because of long-term brewery contracts.

He agreed Rakau is almost as good and so far, still fairly plentiful and obtainable.

Interestingly, he loves myrcene too but said it's extremely volatile and blows away very quickly. So, if you're picking hops primarily for myrcene levels, you better have a plan in place to package young, dispense and drink through the whole batch super fast.

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Re: Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau

Post by Clibit » Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:07 am

seymour wrote:Last night, Stan Hieronymous and I talked about New Zealand hops (that's a fun sentence, I won't lie). He said the secret is out about Riwaka and it's become almost impossible for brewers to get worldwide because of short supplies and super high demand, and that it will remain so for years because of long-term brewery contracts.

He agreed Rakau is almost as good and so far, still fairly plentiful and obtainable.

Interestingly, he loves myrcene too but said it's extremely volatile and blows away very quickly. So, if you're picking hops primarily for myrcene levels, you better have a plan in place to package young, dispense and drink through the whole batch super fast.
You and Stan eh, sitting in a tree. :wink:

Didn't realise myrcene was so volatile, but it probably explains how some beers have changed radically in the bottle. I think the Riwaka secret was out a few years ago, there's been none on sale here since about 2011/12. But yes, Rakau still turns up each year, and is different to Riwaka but a very interesting flavour.

Get some Riwaka.. http://www.brewshop.co.nz/hops-riwaka.html

Stevej bought the max four packs, but then refused to split the cost, best gift I've had in a long time. :). And, he discovered he didn't like them. Tragic.

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Re: Schlafly Hop Trial: Rakau

Post by seymour » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:48 am

Clibit wrote:You and Stan eh, sitting in a tree. :wink:
Right. Crushing like a school girl. :)
Clibit wrote:Didn't realise myrcene was so volatile, but it probably explains how some beers have changed radically in the bottle. I think the Riwaka secret was out a few years ago, there's been none on sale here since about 2011/12. But yes, Rakau still turns up each year, and is different to Riwaka but a very interesting flavour.

Get some Riwaka.. http://www.brewshop.co.nz/hops-riwaka.html

Stevej bought the max four packs, but then refused to split the cost, best gift I've had in a long time. :). And, he discovered he didn't like them. Tragic.
I'm on the lookout. I currently have several other new-to-me varieties to brew through, but I'll probably make Riwaka my next purchase.

Cheers!

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