We’ve been running with a bit of a Californian theme of late and so I thought we may as well keep rolling on, after all, California knows how to party!
We looked at Anchor’s steam beer a few weeks back - one of the many examples of a beers made using a mash up of techniques. In this case, a fermentation using lager yeast, but at hot temperatures more commonly associated with ale yeast.
As far as I can glean, today’s beer is a lager made as a lager, but, on another note, it offers a quick ABCDE on the topic of hop science.
Hops are typically used for either their bittering powers or their contribution to aroma.
Alpha acids or humulones in hops isomerize in the boil and contribute to bitterness measured in International Bitterness Units (IBUs).
Beta acids, or lupulones are more soluble and therefore feed more into aroma - but can also play a part in bittering and antimicrobial action. The ratio of alpha to beta acids also dictates the degree to which bitterness fades.
The single hop in today’s beer is called Cluster and is a rare(ish) example of a Dual purpose hop. These are hops that are high in both alpha acids and Essential oils - the latter being the most important factor for aroma, adding a variety of notes ranging from piney and fruity, to woody and herbal. Being highly volatile, essential oils can be driven off in the boil, so aroma hops should be added late in the boil or even in the fermenter.
I found Cluster described online as clean, neutral and slightly floral - so let’s see if this is how the beer plays out…
It pours a brilliant gold with a pristine white head. The nose offers a beautifully mineral quality with just enough malt sweetness to balance out some really lovely citrus and floral hop notes. Seems to venture into the realms of ale esters too. The palate is spot on - light and ethereal again with a super judicious level of hopping. Clean, crisp and with decent length on the finish - something you wouldn’t commonly say about a lager…
Really lovely stuff and which has somehow transported me back to a very memorable pint of Theakston Best in a pub in Yorkshire many, many years ago.
I can only conclude that cluster, our dual purpose hop, is a winner. Anchor also use their own lager yeast for this beer and I really wonder how much influence this is having on the final result, which has real depth and character despite its simple lager label.