Insights Into Achieving Hoppy Beer Consistency

​Creating a killer hoppy beer and making it a mainstay is one thing, making sure it stays the same is another.

Hop and grain crops can fluctuate, especially for smaller and up-and-coming breweries that have yet to lock down long-term hop or grain contracts. Quickly establishing the guidelines can sometimes help in year-to-year changes and make sure a brewery is presenting that same beer each year, especially as hop-forward beers have become so popular for consumers.

Working with your vendor for new shipments with important analytics and sensory test can be vital. Being able to adjust your brew is key as well.

Building that relationship with key suppliers has made a big difference​ for Brad Benson of Stoup Brewing.

​”​Yakima Chief Hops, one of our main suppliers, has worked very closely with us to ensure we can weather year-to-year crop variations​,” said the co-founder and Head Brewer for the Seattle brewery​.

One of ​the ​brewery’s ​protocols is to do a sensory evaluation to compare crop years.

​”Unless you brew with a hop, you don’t really have the full story​,” he explained​. ​”​After sensory, we will typically brew batches with different crop years or a blend of different crop years and evaluate the finished beer.

​”​If these beers meet sensory standards we will then blend them and determine how to phase out one year’s hops and phase in the next.​”

Flavor consistency is ​Cheboygan Brewing‘s ​No. 1​ priority​, said Brewmaster Brian Lindsay​.​ ​To obtain ​that ​consistency, it’s critical to use quality vendors and constantly evaluate products.​ Lindsay said Cheboygan ​requires all of its vendors to supply certificates of analysis for their respective products.

​”​This information helps us to make changes and accurately replicate any recipe​,” he said​.

There is also a fair amount of mechanical checks performed on-site​ regularly​ to ensure consistency as well. Those include sieve analysis of malt, calibrating temperature probes and sensory evaluations.

​Over​ the last ​three​ years, ​Dean Priebe, the Brewmaster for Icicle Brewing in Leavenworth, Washington said the brewery has been able to select hops in Yakima to keep flavor and aroma consistent.

​”​Each time we get hops from a new lot, we adjust the recipes for aroma, flavor, and bitterness​,” he said.

Legal Draft​ Beers’ products have tended to stay consistent because the hops ​co-founder Greg McCarthy said they use in core beers are more traditional hops that have been in use for years. ​He noted that seasonal and specialty beers are where ​the Arlington, Texas brewery utilizes​ different hops, ​so​ consistency year over year is less of a factor.

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