Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Northern Brewer Hops

The Official NBA was an attempt to get to know the Northern Brewer hop. I used it aggressively in this one gallon batch/yeast starter. Two bottles were even jammed with hop cones. There are some pros and cons.

Pros...

1. Northern Brewer hops are much more delicate in flavor than I assumed.
2. The bittering qualities are solid and quite acceptable.
3. The flavoring qualities are fruity and grassy/straw-like with hints of "orange" citrus and spice.
4. Aromas lean towards a mild or very soft citrus and fruity quality.
5. Bottle hopping rounded out the flavor and aroma with more orange citrus & apricot fruity notes.
6. Definitely a candidate for hop blending to attain subtleties in flavor and aroma.

Cons...

1. Severe oxidized aroma and flavor caused by whole cone dry hops.
2. Bottle hopping (I did use a LOT!) cause gushing, but a better overall beer and less oxidized flavor...kind-of strange but true. The oxidized flavor seemed to diminish greatly as the glass was swirled and warmed...20+ minutes.
3. High bittering rate caused a slightly harsh lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.
4. Lacks complexity/interest as a stand alone aroma hop.

I would be very interested in hearing about anyone's experiences using Northern Brewer hops. I've only really seen them being used as bittering hops. I think they have a lot of unseen flavor and aroma potential. Just gotta unlock some secrets. Perhaps a unique malt profile, hop blending, yeast choice and very mild dried fruit additions.

4 comments:

Adam said...

No experience here, but, I'm happy to hear about yours. One of these days I'll have to check NB out.

grove said...

The BJCP style guidelines claims that Northern Brewer is the signature hops for Anchor Steam beer. It wouldn't surprise me that they use the same hop in most of their other beers as well as it has a quite distinct profile.

Ted Danyluk said...

Hi Grove,

The thing is, I'm not so familiar with Anchor's beers, and the last time I had the Steam beer (on draft), it was just mildly balanced with hop bitterness with almost no flavor nor aroma. But now I curious about their Liberty APA.

I just added a few more tasting notes. After swirling the glass to get out a lot of carbonation, and warming it up, the "oxidized" flavor and scent goes away. I found a pleasant apricot aroma in there.

So far, the most notable qualities in these hops are are fruity notes...orange, apricot, grapefruit, cherry, and only a touch of mild spice.

Anonymous said...

Northern Brewer hops are great. I tried making an Anchor Steam beer clone but it turn out more like an English pale ale. I have so many different hops but Northern brewer is one of my favorites. I think some of my hops may be old and the flavor is not correct but the Nothern Brewer was fresh and DELICIOUS. I highly recommend using it. I have tried Anchor Steam beer and I love it but I don't remember the flavor really. All I know is that the beer I made with Northern Brewer was great and I can't wait to do it again. The only thing stopping me is that have so many hops and other recipes I want to try.