Experimenting With New Hop Varieties

San Diego’s Coronado Brewing is set to release a new experimental beer series in February called Stem to Stern.

Batch #1 will feature Denali and a yet-to-be-named experimental hop varietal. The brewery’s R&D Brewer, Tyler Tucker, said he really enjoyed the big pine, pineapple and notes of citrus that Denali gave the beer. He’s also experimenting at the brewpub with a variety of newer hops, including Cashmere.

With 2017 upon us and a whole slew of new beers are being released as of late, Brewer caught up with Coronado Brewmaster Ryan Brooks to talk about how the brewery goes through the process of choosing new hop varieties to experiment with and how a beer is formulated.

Brewer: How are you exposed to these new varieties?

Brooks: Lately we have been receiving some cool new hops from our vendors which is nice. We have found some new varieties at a couple MBAA meetings as well as conferences. That’s where I first found out about hops like Cashmere, Triple Pearl, and Cardinal.


Brewer: What sort of process do you go through when you first get a new hop variety that you have not worked with before?

Brooks: We usually have a base beer around 6 percent that is light in Crystal malt or maybe has a small amount of Vienna malt. I like to do a small bittering addition then a hefty late kettle and heavy whirlpool additions to maximize the flavor of the new hop we are trying. Also doing a 1.5-pound per barrel dry hop is pretty standard in the experimental hop beers.


Brewer: Do you go off notes from what you are told the hop comes off as and try to compliment it with a base beer or do you use a base that you already make to experiment with?

Brooks: Sometimes the descriptors for newer hops are not the best. I like to brew a large West Coast-style Pale Ale or lower ABV IPA to see for ourselves what flavors and aromas we get from the hops.


Brewer: How much feedback do you like to get on these and what feedback is most important to you in determining if this is a hop you want to continue working with?

Brooks: The feedback is huge, as well as how much we like the product.  We have three facilities at Coronado which is very nice, it allows us to show off the single-hop beers and it lets us hear feedback from the customers. It’s fun to have their beers on tap and listen to what people think.   I love to see how the hops change and age over a month or two, that really helps me decided how we move forward with certain hops.

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