Let's Talk Experimental Hops | Crux Fermentation Project
Crux Brewer Grant McFarren

Let’s Talk Experimental Hops

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Experimental hops are typically new hop varieties still being developed and tested by hop breeders. They may offer unique flavor and aroma profiles not found in more established hop varieties. It’s also a great way to explore the newest and latest flavors in beer.

With our Aromatic Variance series, brewers use the same recipe but change the hops each time. Now, we’re on our tenth version of Aromatic Variance and to celebrate this momentous occasion, we sat down with our Assistant Brewmaster, Grant McFarren, to give insight on the Aromatic Variance series:

-Is it common to brew with just one hop? 

Grant – To test it out, yes. Very common with home brewers. We would rarely continue with a single hop in production without adding another hop for variance. In this beer, we add the hop at four different stages in the brewing process.  

-FOUR TIMES?! That seems like a lot. 

Grant– No, it s pretty typical for this style of beer. Plus, adding hops at different times of the brewing process lets the layers of hops express themselves in flavor and bitterness.  

-Tell us about this beer. What kind of recipe do you use? 

Grant– The Aromatic Variance recipe is a balanced IPA with a lighter body. We’re always aiming for around the same ABV, so nothing else about the beer changes except which hop we are testing out. During the boil addition, we do slightly tailor it so that the beers have the same level of bitterness in terms of volume. 

-How many Aromatic Variances do you brew a year? 

Grant: We brew about two to five a year, depending on how many experimental hops we get.

What can we look forward to in the future of the Aromatic Variance series?

Grant: We might expand out of West Coast IPAs and into the world of lagers…

In Aromatic Variance #10, we used the hop HBC 638 (experimental hops start out with a number instead of a name ) from the Hop Breeding Company. The aroma is bright, citrusy, and sunny, with tropical and stone fruits. Additionally, it’s described as herbal, sweet, and floral. 

Brewing with experimental hops, brewers can help to support hop breeding programs and contribute to the development of new hop varieties. This can help ensure a steady supply of high-quality hops for brewers to use in the future.

Aromatic Variance #10 will be poured straight from the zwickel at Zwickelmania on Saturday, Feb 25th, 11-4, and will be on tap soon after.