Our Latest Craft Beer Posts from Twitter

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Iron Hill "A Study in Hops"

Here's an oldie but a goodie!  Fate had brought the subject up recently as I caught up with my old friend Jesse.  And Lo!  My note sheet from this Iron Hill experiment shows up in a coat pocket.  The date: April 2, 2011.  I had sample-sized servings of the following:
Base Beer: Irish Red Ale
Medium-bodied red ale brewed without finishing hops.  We split it into 10 kegs and added one of the following hop varieties to each keg:

Northern Brewer (Germany).  Notes: Mild at first, with a dry punch.  Subtle notes.  Extremely drinkable.
East Kent Goldings (England).  Notes: Totally British.  Kinda mild but permeates the brew, especially at the finish.  Passive-aggressive.
Saaz (Czech Republic).  Notes: Light and slightly zippy.  I was waiting for this one...not disappointed.  Brings that pilsner drinkable dryness to an Irish Red.
Styrian Goldings (Slovenia).  Notes: Mysterious.  Well-balanced but hard to describe.  I like it.  I think.
Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand).  Notes: Bright hops, less citrusy than the Citra.  Little milder but very tasty.
Sorachi Ace (Japan).  Notes: Dry and smooth, touch of citrus, reminds me: Saison-ish.  Yards?  Most intriguing.
Citra (United States).  Notes: Hops are a little brighter, giving a fresh lift to the red ale.  Stylish, but I'm looking for a little maltier.
Columbus (United States).  Notes: Bitter on the back end, leaving room for the malt.  Reminds me of: Yakima Glory (light).
Centennial (United States).  Notes: Hops are grungier with a darker, milder grapefruit flavor.  I was expecting something more like Centennial IPA from Founders, but this is different.
Amarillo (United States).  Notes: Slightly funky, easiest drinking so far, but it's cooling down my Chipotle Wings.

The interesting part of this experiment to my mind is the use of the Irish Red as a base.  The malt bill is going to be different from a typical pale ale or IPA, so my assessments of these brews is a bit backwards from my typical tastes in hops.  I usually love Citra and Centennial hops,while Sorachi Ace... not so much.  But here I found that the foreign hops added the most to the Irish Red.  An interesting study indeed...

When first introduced to Iron Hill's beers a few years ago, I was in a very experimental stage and really enjoyed by beers over the top.  Iron Hill had reminded me of the Triumph (the Princeton location was the only one I had visited at that point) in that they were drinkable, yeah, but not very bold.  I found them to be a bit boring back then.  But a visit to Iron Hill North Wales changed my mind:  I discovered the Nine of Diamonds Scotch Ale.  As you check out this brief, please know that the Iron Hill location was incorrectly identified as Maple Shade, NJ...  But never fear!  I also reviewed the McMaster Scotch Ale on Cask while I was at Iron Hill, Maple Shade for A Study in Hops on April 2, 2011.

The truth is, I am enjoying Iron Hill's brews more and more each time I go.  The Pig Iron Porter is a super-solid porter by just about anyone's standards, but their experiments, seasonals, and collaborations have proved to be more and more interesting while maintaining a manageable level of drinkability.  I've met the head brewer of Maple Shade a few times now, and Chris LaPierre has been incredibly accessible and gracious whenever I've bumped into him. I look forward to spending a bit more time at Iron Hill now that my lovely wife included a mug club membership as part of my Christmas present this year (thanks, honey!).  Please share your Iron Hill experiences as well as other beer-drinking adventures with the Ferment Nation.  Include pictures and we'll share them with our readers.  Thanks and Cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment