Monday, July 10, 2017

Single Hop

Single hop IPAs and pale ales have been around for awhile now, allowing brewers to add variety to existing recipes.  Societe Brewing regularly changes the hop in its single hop Bachelor pale ale.  Citra and Mosaic hops were the new, popular hops over the past year or two, but now other hops with names like Cashmere, Moteuka, and Azacca are appearing in beers.  I never know if a beer named for a single hop is really only brewed with that specific varietal, or if other hops are added at some point during the brewing process.  I talked to one brewery about its Mosaic IPA and was told that despite its name it was not a single hop IPA, so unless specifically labeled as single hop, like Societe's Bachelor, I think other hops are included.  In general, I like the concept of single hop beers.

Stone Brewing's Liberty Station had three Experimental single hop beers in its store this past weekend.  I asked the difference between the three beers and when I was told that the Magnum hopped beer was dank and bitter I stopped listening and ordered a crowler.  The woman at the beer-to-go counter further explained that Magnum is typically used as a bittering hop.  Coincidentally, after buying the beer, I read this blog post from Ramblings of a Beer Runner on single hop / single malt beers.  Double coincidentally, the blog post specifically described a single hop Magnum IPA, calling it "the equivalent of listening to symphony entirely composed of tubas."  Symphony of tubas.  I pictured fifteen middle schoolers all blowing into outsized tubas hitting different notes in different keys while I tried to enjoy a pint.  I approached my Magnum crowler with some trepidation.

Stone's Experimental Magnum was not dank, nor was it a symphony of tubas.  It was a decent, not great IPA, which was OK by me.  It was piney and bitter, and brewers obviously use Magnum in their IPAs for a reason.   It was not overly bitter by any measure.  IPAs have evolved in recent years, with traditional "West Coast" bitter-forward beers replaced by more exotic flavors, like the dank, overripe citrus of most cloudy IPAs, or the earthy/onion flavors I associate with most Mosaic hop beers.  Experimental Magnum lands in the West Coast style, which seemed almost retro.  Despite its bitterness and 7.0% plus ABV, Magnum was lighter than I expected, and had a clean, crisp flavor to match its sharp hop bite.  I like how Stone's small breweries are given the authority and flexibility to brew special beers.  It makes me a frequent customer.

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