Brewer's Perspectives: Unsung Hops

Certain hops play leading roles, but the supporting actors are just as important and often overlooked. Sean Buchan of Cerebral Brewing shares some of his favorites.

Sean Buchan Sep 26, 2018 - 3 min read

Brewer's Perspectives: Unsung Hops Primary Image

“In supporting roles, we tend to use a good amount of El Dorado,” says Sean Buchan of Cerebral Brewing, “but in small amounts—10–20 percent of the hops bill. It can get excessively sweet on you really quick, especially if you combine it with other hops that have that perceived sweetness, so we tend to use it in conjunction with other hops that will tame that back a bit.

In Rare Trait, we use El Dorado, Mosaic, and Citra, but we also have Azacca in there, which brings a bit of the piney fruity note and doesn’t let it just get straight fruit.

“We’ve been using a lot more Huell Melon and Hallertau Blanc in IPAs, and the Huell Melon/Galaxy combo has worked really well for us. It tends to bring out more of the melon notes already there in Galaxy, and we get more pineapple and honeydew melon. Similarly, Hallertau Blanc and Motueka work well together to complement bright hops, and we use it with Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy as well.

Our Remote Island IPA is Galaxy, Hallertau Blanc, and Motueka, with Galaxy being 50 percent and the other two the remaining 50 percent. They work really well to provide a lot more depth and bring out more of the bright pineapple and a hint of lemongrass that I always enjoy. It adds a bit of complexity to the hops bill, so it’s not just one big fruit note.

“I love Columbus, and it works well with Citra at about 80 percent Citra, 20 percent Columbus. We use heavier Columbus in the whirpool, then flip the ratio in the dry hop. The Citra lot we have right now is bright with a ton of lychee, passionfruit, and other fun acidic fruits. But in everything we do, I don’t want the fruit to dominate everything else, so Columbus brings that back a bit with a touch of classic citrus and a little bit of dank.

“New Zealand hops tend to play really great supporting roles, partly because they’re hard to get in the amount we need to do beers exclusively with them and partly because they’re so unique. You can make all-New Zealand-hops beers that are amazing, but in my opinion, they tend to function better playing with Pacific Northwest hops.”