If you’re going to use certain hops, you’ve got to learn what they’re going to produce. It’s easy as a homebrewer or pro brewer to get sucked into a description, but you really have to find out for yourself through sensory analysis, through rubbing, through tasting beers that use that hop.
The safest way for us to really get to know a hop is to pair it with things we know that work. We know what Citra brings to a beer at 7.5 percent versus 5.75 percent; we know what Mosaic, Vic’s Secret, Galaxy, Simcoe, and Cascade do. So when we add hops we’ve never used before and get that new angle to something, then we taste that beer and can ask, “Alright, what if we paired it with this?”
We’ll use a hop like Motueka and read that it has a 0.8 oil content, and we want to pair it with Citra which has a range of 1.8 to 2.5, so we start to take into consideration that if we want to dry hop with 2.5 to 3 pounds per barrel, we need to consider the hops we’re using and what their oil contents are.
Recently, we got our hands on some Sabro and paired it with some Citra. We went 60 percent Citra and 40 percent Sabro; the net result was that the Sabro just punched its way through. It was the more intense of the two. So we asked, “How the hell did that happen? We used 60 percent Citra, and it’s the banger here.” Then we looked at the oil content, and Sabro is a 3.8 at max, and Citra is maybe a 2.5. That’s why this beer netted out as it did.
For the next beer, we did a Mosaic beer with Sabro, and we took a look at the oil contents and said, “We know what the variable was like with Citra and Sabro at 60/40. Let’s keep the variables consistent and just replace Citra with Mosaic, and learn what’s going on with Sabro.” The Sabro was intense, but not nearly as intense as it was with Citra. So then you’re starting to form this catalog in your mind of things going on. You have to brew it and take that chance, but that’s how we’re starting to learn what these hops are all about.
Then when you rub certain hops in Cryo form, it can change your perception of those hops. One of those hops for us was Ekuanot. It’s a hop we liked using in smaller amounts because the classic T-90 pellet version contains a decent amount of vegetal/green-pepper characteristics. When we use it in large amounts, that starts to come out and can get a little overbearing. However, when you use Ekuanot Cryo, that vegetal matter is nonexistent. It’s straight tropical fruit to the highest extent. It’s like “Where was this hop my whole life? Why can’t I use this all the time?”