Schlafly Hop Trial: Northdown

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Schlafly Hop Trial: Northdown

Post by seymour » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:58 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 Pi Golden Mean
Aroma: 6 out of 10, Appearance: 4 out of 5, Taste: 7 out of 10 , Palate: 3 out of 5, Overall: 14 out of 20

Total Score: 3.4 out of 5

Tasted on tap at Pi on Pi Day. Here’s another clever math pun and cleverly repurposed next iteration of Schlafly’s single hop trials. It poured a very light golden colour with slight chill haze, a thick, persistent white head with lace. Aromas were light, too, mere hints of husky grains, grass, weeds, very vegetal like garden tomato plants on a hot summer day. I didn’t pickup traditional citrus and pine resin at all. Interesting, I wonder if it’ll settle-down with age? Definitely not your typical refined English hop, nowhere near as smooth as Fuggles, Goldings, Northern Brewer, Challenger, etc. Flavor was akin to Schlafly’s other 100% Optic brews: slight malt sweetness, white bread, rounded and a bit mushy, not as crisp and biscuity as they claim. It’s a brave recipe though, they have to say everything they wanna say with two moves, nowhere to hide. Light-medium body, average carbonation, long-lasting mild hoppiness. I’d say Northdown hops present an unobtrusive bitterness, weak but unique flavors and aromas. Overall a nice, easy-drinking English golden ale. Good not great, but a perfectly fine pizza beer which was the whole point.

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