Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lychees and torpedos

From Sierra Nevada Brewing comes this description of a new hop varietal called Citra.

Sierra Nevada ( and two other breweries) funded the research and development of this variety and we own most of the acreage available in the world, (which is something like 3 acres). This hop has a crazy strange flavor profile, leaning toward pineapple, mango, papaya [emphasis mine] and other tropical fruit flavors and aromas. As always, we use only whole cone hops.

And, from Hop Science Newsletter (October 2008) of the World Brewing Congress:
The variety Citra, with a alpha acid content between 10-12% and an oil content of 2-3 % originated from a cross between the female European noble aroma variety Hallertauer Mittelfrueh and a male that was derived from the variety known as U.S. Tettnanger. Citra is 50% Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, 25% U.S. Tettnanger and the remaining 25% is East Kent Golding, Bavarian, Brewers Gold and other unknown hops.

Citra has a special flavor and aroma that it imparts to beer. Depending on the brewing process and the hopping rate, the flavors and aromas of beers hopped with Citra might range from grapefruit to lime, melon, gooseberry, and lychee fruit.
[emphasis mine]

Citra is the hop of prominence in a formerly draft-only beer that the brewery calls its Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. The torpedo reference is to a device designed by owner Ken Grossman and his brewers to more efficiently dry-hop their beers in large 600-barrel fermenters.
The Hop Torpedo is a cylindrical stainless steel vessel that was developed to harness the essential oils and resins in hops, without extracting bitterness.

The device essentially works like an espresso machine. A stainless filter basket is packed full of whole cone hops loaded into the vessel and sealed against pressure. The device is then placed in the fermentation cellars where beer from the cylindroconical fermenters is pushed down from the tanks, through the pressurized column of hops and back into the fermenting tank.

The flow of beer out of the tanks, into the Torpedo and back into the fermenter can be controlled to extract different levels of flavor, aroma and bitterness. Essentially, it is a new way of dry-hopping that extracts all of the oily resin without the residual bitterness of the traditional method.

The final two sentences seems to imply a pickup of bitterness from dry-hopping. Most breweries extract bitterness by boiling their hops submerged in wort for an hour or so in the kettle, not from dry-hopping.

Think of dry-hopping as a brewer's caprese salad. Rather than adding uncooked basil to a salad, a brewer add hops to finished beer, cold in a storage tank. The process imparts herbal, resiny, and grassy aromatics to a beer.

Press release as posted at BeerNews.org: Sierra Nevada to bottle first new year-round release in over 28 years

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