My latest batch of beer was ready to serve over the weekend. I have been slow to get beer into bottles and slow to write anything about homebrew in a while. It seems like I have found myself drinking beer made outside of the home for a while.
This batch was an Australian Sparkling Ale:
The recipe from Northern Brewer was pretty basic save for the exclusive use of Pride of Ringwood hops and Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale. Prior to this batch I had used neither of these ingredients before.
iBrewmaster estimated that the batch would come out at ~5% ABV and ~44 IBU. The first bottle I drank confirms these numbers. There is some bitterness there, but nothing overwhelming, and it is balanced by the moderate alcohol well. Unlike some of the “bigger” beers I have been brewing and drinking lately, this recipe would transition into the warmer months when the temperatures rise and thirst grows.
The flavor profile is really different and I am going to have to attribute that to the use of Pride of Ringwood hops. Described by most beer experts as being “earthy,” this hop seemed to impart a slightly different profile in terms of both bitterness and aroma from the now more common Cascade or Willamette hops.
In recent years, Australian hop growers have worked to improve the quality of their product in line with international expectations. The primary focus has been to reduce the amount of cohumulone present. Cohumulone is an alpha acid, which are the compounds that provide bitterness to beers, but it is a compound that produces harsh and unpleasant bitterness. Through breeding the percentage of cohumulone has been brought down in Australian hops to be in line with more prominent American hops like Cascade at about 32% of alpha acid content.
That was a little bit of a beer technical aside, but it might explain why you do not see Australian hops figure as prominently in the formulations of our craft beer mad world.
With some more time at home and a schedule not full of family obligations I spent some time over the weekend putting a batch of Irish Red Ale into bottles. I am also preparing to brew severa new recipes in the coming weeks including Synchronicity Extraordinaire Wheaten Saison, Lefse Blonde, and Chinook IPA. All of these are “new to me” recipes, so watch out!