Strata Helps Brewers Land a Fruity, Hoppy Punch

Chad Henderson, head brewer at NoDa Brewing Company, said Strata hops were a common ingredient in some beers that customers had recently taken a shine to.

The hop formerly known as X-331 is Indie Hops’ first hop variety to be released out of the Oregon State Aroma Hop Breeding Program in Corvallis, Oregon. Born in 2009, Strata is the progeny of an open-pollinated Perle located in an Oregon State experimental field in Corvallis, Oregon, according to Yakima Valley Hops.

“We’ve used Strata in several IPA brands including West Coast IPAs, Hazy IPAs, Double Hazy IPAs and session IPAs,” Henderson told Brewer Magazine. “It is one of the main hops used in one of our best selling new beers of 2023, Lil’ SLURP, and frequently plays a role in hop-centric beers that we want to accentuate a bright or zesty character in.”

Strata is also utilized at Rogue Ales, where Brewmaster Joel Shields said the hop was most utilized in their Colossal Claude Imperial IPA as well as some of their American Pale Ales.

Between its strong disease resistance, vigorous growing habit, and complex layers of aroma, Strata has gained popularity with some breweries. Yakima Valley describes its brewing characteristics as strawberry, passionfruit, grapefruit, bubble gum, sage and dank.

Henderson and Shields visited with Brewer Magazine and shared insight about how their breweries were utilizing the fruit-forward hop.

BREWER: What sets Strata apart from other similar hops?  
SHIELDS: Strata hops can produce a wide variety of flavors from subtle pleasant fruit notes to big resinous dark notes depending on the amount used and when in the process you add the hops.
HENDERSON: I think Strata sets itself apart from a lot of newer varieties as it’s not presenting itself as “the next Citra” or “the next Mosaic,” I feel if anything, Strata almost comes off as a “new age” Simcoe, it’s bright, resiny and sharp while also having tons of fruit notes as well. I really like using it as an accent hop to elevate the overall hop blend as it has fruity notes and tropical character but it also comes off in a clean and “sharp” way in the final beer.

BREWER: Are there any technical challenges or tips you have for using Strata for someone that hasn’t used it yet?
SHIELDS: It is best to start with a small amount of Strata hops in a SMaSH beer to get a feel for the hops. Another idea is to substitute Strata hops in a recipe you’ve already made. Strata can get intense when used in larger quantities, so it’s best to pair with with other hops you know you like when starting out.
HENDERSON: From my experience, I think Strata is very versatile in flavor and aroma but needs to be contrasted or paired with other hops to truly get the most out of what it offers. A little bit of Strata can make a big difference so adding it to a hop profile can greatly enhance/effect the overall flavor and aroma, but if you want it to be the focus, you should consider other hops to tag team with it in order for it to not be too over the top in the flavor it provides.

BREWER: What do you feel are great complementary hops that go with Strata?  
SHIELDS: Anything citrus or dank — Eureka, Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe or any of the classic “C” hops.
HENDERSON: I love using Mosaic with Strata. I’ve also really enjoyed Citra, Sultana and Nectaron recently.

BREWER: What flavors/aromas did you expect — and didn’t expect — from Strata? How did you use them to your advantage or have to alter the idea of the beer?  
SHIELDS: The first time I smelled Strata it smelled like orange juice. I think that has changed a bit over the years as the hop plants have matured. You still get strong citrus notes from Strata, but if you use larger quantities it becomes more dank.
HENDERSON: There’s a lot of passionfruit, strawberry, guava and musky/dank notes to Strata in the raw hop form and a lot of those characters come out in finished beer but what I was surprised by is how sharp and bright all of those notes were in comparison to other hops that would be described in a similar way.

BREWER: Do you have any ‘out of the box’ ideas for Strata that you want to share?  
SHIELDS:  I think using hemp terpenes in conjunction with Strata hops could give you a very good cannabis-inspired IPA.
HENDERSON: Right now I don’t have any out of the box ideas, but I have been very happy with utilizing it as a great additional hop to elevate our hop profiles. Next to Mosaic, it has recently become one of my “go-to” hops to accent a hop load with.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.