Can HBC 472​ ​Replace Coconut Additions?

Calling it a ‘hidden gem,’ Scratchtown Brewing head brewer and co-owner Mike Klimek, along with fellow co-owner Shay Reilly, is looking forward to more breweries using HBC 472 as a hop to help boost production and see it fully named.

HBC 472 is an experimental hop variety from the Hop Breeding Company, which is a joint venture between John I. Haas and Yakima Chief Ranches. It is the result of open pollination of ​the​ ​American ​wild neomexicanus. Scratchtown has worked with the hop to develop a dry-hopped Pilsner and a Black IPA and the duo at the Nebraska brewery look forward to many more uses.

The aroma ​is listed to ​consist of floral, woody, earthy, and coconut​, which Klimek and Reilly both agreed with.​

Tom Summerscales, Production Manager for West Yorkshire, England’s Vocation Brewery told Brewer that they have used HBC 472 in two quite distinctly different beers, Mexican-inspired IPA called All Saints and an 11% ABV Black TIPA called Imperial Coconut.

Summerscales and the Scratchtown team of Klimek and Reilly shared with Brewer their insights to the hop.

​BREWER: What styles of beers have you used HBC 472 in or can you tell us an interesting beer you have used it in?
​SCRATCHTOWN: ​We call the Pilsner a “Tropical Pilsner” due to all the coconut and fruit notes provided by HBC472 and from the fact that we also add some lime juice at packaging. 472 is only added at the dry-hop stage and its character really shines through the clean base beer. Certainly not a Pilsner in the most traditional sense but that is what the base is prior to the post-fermentation additions. The beer has proven to be so popular that we have added it to our limited line of packaged beers.​ ​Building off that beer, we have also just used 472 in Tropical Night, a Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale. In this beer, we really focused on late and heavy additions to the whirlpool and through dry-hopping to accentuate the aromas and flavors this unique hop has to offer. You’d swear there is coconut in the beer.

​BREWER: What sets HBC 472 apart from other similar hops?
SUMMERSCALES: We tend to find with HBC 472, that it manages to retain its grapefruit and citrus characteristics whilst adding an extra dose of coconut into the mix. In contrast to Sabro, which can provide similar flavours, HBC 472 tends to give a more bourbon-like vanilla backbone to the profile as opposed to the creaminess of Sabro. It can also add a woody character, similar to that gain from barrel ageing although this isn’t too prominent. The coconut is definitely less intense than Sabro which can be a blessing or a curse as Sabro can definitely be quite a marmite hop.

​BREWER: Are there any technical challenges or tips you have for using HBC 472 for someone that hasn’t used it yet?
​SCRATCHTOWN: We have used these as we would any pelletized hop, but keep in mind that its aroma/flavor character is strong. Perhaps start with a smaller dose than you are used to and go from there.Our experiences have shown a very soft bitterness and little to no hop-burn from HBC472.

​BREWER: What flavors/aromas did you expect … and didn’t expect from HBC 472? How did you use them to your advantage or have to alter the idea of the beer?
​SCRATCHTOWN: Judging from the description and aroma upon opening a bag of HBC472, the coconut character really jumped out first. We do see some of the oak/barrel notes mentioned in the description as well. Maybe even some soft vanilla notes. Knowing this, we designed the black IPA in such a way that it would work if we were using actual coconut. The roast character is minimal, but plays with the HBC472 way that is harmonious and complementary.

​BREWER: Do you have any ‘out of the box’ ideas for HBC 472 that you want to share?
SUMMERSCALES: We don’t have anything planned in for 472 but it would fit pretty well in any big IPA for some extra depth of flavour. One thing I would love to do would be to try a single hop beer with it in as we have only used it alongside a few other heavy hitter hops. It could also be an interesting addition to an American Brown, trying to accentuate the vanilla/coconut characteristics to round off the beer.
​SCRATCHTOWN: We are currently working on a one-off IPA that will utilize HBC472 in conjunction with the USDA074 experimental variety (Vista). The lot of 074 that we got are bursting with citrus fruit and a touch of herbal grassiness. Since 472 is so dominant, it will probably be a lesser percentage when we blend the hops. While we feel like we have a bit of a hidden gem in HBC​ ​472, we are hoping enough brewers start using it so it can eventually be named and placed into full production​.​

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