Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Hoppy New Year?

Happy New Year everyone. Hopefully, it will be a Hoppy New Year for all of the homebrewers out there.

I brewed a modified version of my Metathesis Pale Ale on the 30th. I'll post the recipe sometime. I had to modify the hops I use for two reasons. First, I had some in the freezer that needed to be used, but more importantly, the world-wide hop shortage is going to affect the availability of Cascade hops (and others). Cascade hops are critical for many of my beers, but especially so for my Metathesis Pale Ale. I love Cascade hops, and I know I am not alone in this love affair.

I bought a pound of Cascade hops about 2 months ago. I still have about half a pound left. If cascade hops are going to become as rare as some believe in 2008, my half pound of hops is like a little gold mine. My Metathesis Pale Ale recipe calls for 4 ounces of Cascade hops. That's a lot. My solution was to use some Yakima Magnum for bittering. Magnum hops have a very high alpha acid content, so a little goes a long ways. I combined the Magnum hops with some Centennial hops which will provide some Cascade-like flavor. I will dry hop with Cascade in a week.


milkshake said...

How does Saaz hop compare to Casdade? - I drank some lagers made with Saaz it and they were pretty bitter and hoppy-flavored too

Chemgeek said...

Saaz is THE hop for a traditional pilsner. The Cascade is a bit more pungent (in a good way) and has the aroma of pine needles. Saaz is an awesome hop. When used correctly (as in Pilsner Urquell) it can be glorious.

Saaz hops typically have very low alpha acid content (2-4%) and recipes often call for 4-6 ounces of hops for 5 gallons. I read an article recently that claimed the current crop of Saaz is coming in at a paltry 1% alpha acid. That means what little there is will get used up quickly.

milkshake said...

yeah, the hop planting and harvest are pretty labor intensive - we used to go "voluntarily" in the high school, in early spring and then in the summer, as seasonal workers to help at hop farms in the Saaz region (plenty of the red clay mud on the boots, ogling the girls. Furtively-consumed booze and cigarettes. Such were the joys).

Nowadays the labor is not as cheap so they could be doing bad things to the quality.
(By the way, they also accelerated the fermentation procedure for Pilsner Urquel to crank up the production, the export stuff is sterilised and so on. It became yet another mediocre Eurolager.)