Last year Brewdog released a range of four single-hopped IPAs designed to showcase individual hop varieties at their best. It was successful enough last year to repeat the experiment again with four different hops, namely Challenger, HBC, Galaxy and Motueka. Brewdog weren't the first with this concept, but its done well, the same base beer is kept simple to allow the hop to shine through whilst balancing the bitterness kept at 75 for all hops for fair comparison. Hops are added during the boil, at flame-out and in the conditioning tank (dry hopping) to impart as much flavour and aroma as possible. This year the ABV has been reduced to 6.7% from 7.5%, a smart move because it's slightly more amenable to drinking all four in one sitting for comparison purposes plus takes away some alcohol from the flavour allowing the hops to do the talking alone. There's still a small number of sets available to purchase here (service has improved hugely with the shop overhaul) Read on to find out my thoughts.
|Four bottles lined up and ready to go|
I started in the UK by choosing challenger as it seemed as good a place as any. Challenger is a dual purpose hop (used for both bittering and aroma). The beer pours a dark amber with a fluffy beige head that collapses to a lacing after a few minutes.Gives a hint of pineapple on the nose then redcurrant comes strongly. Getting green tea in the flavour, alongside tropical fruits, the caramalt comes to the fore in the middle and a long grassy bitter finish. Its like a hoppy green tea and tastes great.
HBC (342) is an experimental new variety from the US. Pours a darker amber than the others. This has a strong mango and passion fruit aroma. Up front its quite soapy but this is soon replaced by mango yoghurt and a fairly boisterous bitterness. Its a bit unbalanced this one but still quite enjoyable.
Galaxy is a Perle Cross.This one is more subdued than the others on the nose, spicy white pepper notes and a touch of peach. A dominant lime peel note tramples over the slightly muddy malt and none of the peach i usually associate with this hop. A touch thin and perfumed in the finish. I was a bit disappointed with this.
Motueka is a New Zealand descendent of saaz. Fairly sweet smelling pineapple nose. Fairly pithy melon bitterness, some orange peel. long pithy finish. I seem to have saved the best until last and I'm unsurprised as I really love New Zealand hops.
At ~£2.80 a bottle they're an okay price and would recommend for the challenger and Motueka alone. I have a second pack; so hope to try out some blending experiments next month, and I'll report back then!