Top of the Hops!
yes, top of the hops! woohoo!
On this week's blog we're serving up our favourite varieties of mother nature's most bad-ass flower – Humulus lupulus – otherwise known to non-Latin speakers as hops. While in the grand scheme of things hops are relatively new to the brewing process, they've been adding intense aromas and a whole spectrum of bitterness for over 1,200 years. With that in mind, we're taking a moment to salute the all mighty hop in all its leafy glory; so without further ado, cue Led Zepplin's Whole Lotta Love as we put our hands – and paws – together for BrewDog's Top of the Hops.
6. In at number six is English hop variety First Gold. We wouldn't be surprised if this little beaut' is grown to the sound of Spandau Ballet's 80s anthem 'Gold' as the peachy, champagne aromas not only strike a tone with the floral undercurrents of the New Romantic era, but subtle tangerine flavours could also be a nod to guitarist Martin Kemp's omnipresent perma-tan. We use First Gold in our ultra smooth imperial stout Rip Tide, and while we can't guarantee you'll have an '80s rebirth it does meld with the likes of Marris Otter malt to bring about warming flavours of spicy cherry.
5. Like any good chart battle there's always got to be a new kid on the block causing a stir and in this case it's 10-year-old US newcomer, Simcoe. Offering up as many different aromas as Lady Gaga does costume changes, Simcoe is a barrage of resinous pine tones as well as zesty flavours of lemon and citrus. We teamed up Simcoe with a hoard of other US hops to make Hardcore IPA - a shock inducing, hop monster in a bottle that would rattle even the stoniest of poker faces.
4. Holding onto fourth place is Bramling Cross which unashamedly boasts flavours typical to American hops even though it's native to the UK. Bramling Cross is essentially the David Hasselhoff of the hop world with aromas of smooth vanilla, fruity blackcurrant as well as some unexpected lemon notes. Just like any musical venture courtesy of the Hoff, Bramling Cross often takes time to win people round and is no stranger to beers that push the boundaries of brewing as well as common sense. It's no surprise then that we set the Hoff of hops to work on our uber imperial stout and one time world record holder, Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
3. Coming in at number three, this hop hails all the way from New Zealand and is thought to be something of an enigma. Often mistaken for David Bowie in hop form, Nelson Sauvin adds something of a Ziggy Stardust touch to brews and helped us create the unique and unforgettable flavour experienced when Punk IPA first hits the palette. Characteristic grape aromas teamed with an ability to create unusual tasting beers, the Bowie of hops continues to inspire today's brewers to create forward-thinking brews.
2. Our penultimate hop in the BrewDog chart is also the second of our North American favourites – Amarillo. Perhaps taking inspiration from crooner Tony Christie's rather suave public persona, Amarillo is a clean cut hop that's one of the best varieties for brewers looking for a strong grapefruit aroma. We use Amarillo in both Nanny State and Hardcore IPA for its insane ability to add bucket loads of bitterness; probably exactly how Tony Christie felt when Peter Kay managed to get Amarillo to the top spot - a feat Christie himself never actually achieved.
1. Finally in it at number one, Chinook is a hop to be reckoned with. An all America bad boy through and through, Chinook doesn't only serve up lashings of big US hop flavours that would make Bruce Springsteen proud but also boasts an unforgettable whirl of citrus aromas and smooth bitterness. We wanted Punk IPA to pack a flavoursome punch so with the help of three other hop varieties and a generous mash tuns-worth of Marris Otter Extra Pale Malt, we let 'The Boss' do just that.
Have you got a hop favourite that didn't make it to the top spot? Always preferred the B-side to the big guns? We're always on the look-out for brewing inspiration or hop suggestions from you – the folks who drink our beers - so let us know.