Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sovereign Hops, Bitter Tasting

Why is it that the 'save now' feature automatically triggers AFTER I accidently delete the whole post!? Therefore, I am not rewriting the tasting notes. Short story is that the beer tastes good, though I am not going to be using sovereign hops in large amounts for aroma additions. I found they gave the beer a very distinct 'hay-like' and/or 'dried sweet herb' aroma and flavor that I am not hugely crazy about. The hop aroma/flavor might be a bit more to my liking in a beer with a neutral yeast character. Regardless, I'll stick to using these hops in small amounts ( < 1 oz.) and probably not for a solo aroma addition.

Another thing worth noting is the huge impact that carbonation and temperature can have on English style beers, particularly bitters. In particular, I unintentionally* force carbonated this beer to 2.2 volumes of C02 and left it in the kegerator at 42F - as at the time the majority of my beers on tap were American styles. As a result, when I first took a sip of this beer, I hated it. All I could taste was a whole lot of hops and a big, lingering bitterness. However, after de-gassing the beer in the glass and giving it some time to warm up, the character of the beer completely changed for the better. While still not perfect, the malt and yeast flavors came out and the beer became nicely balanced and very drinkable

While it comes as no surprise that temperature and carbonation levels have such an impact on how a beer tastes, it still amazes me that so many American homebrewers and pubs still serve their English style beers both very cold and highly carbonated. I know English styles aren't too popular on this side of the pond to begin with, but jeeze, if your going to take the time and brew up an English beer, why not at least serve it properly?!

* Laziness.

Edit: This beer has really come into its own within the past week or so. The herb-y hop character has faded to a very nice floral aroma and the base malt character has finally shown up. I wasn't crazy about this beer a few weeks ago, though now I wish I had another keg. I'll definitely have to experiment with these sovereign hops a bit more.


  1. I agree with you on the carbonation front. Being a Brit now living in Oregon I find that too many English style beers are over-carbonated here. This really affects the taste, too - as you rightly mention.

    What volume will you go for next time based on this experience?

  2. Martin,

    I typically aim for 1.8-2.0 volumes for my English style ales, though sometimes I'll do them a bit higher if they are for a party or friends. As for temperature, I normally have them in the kegerator at 45F, though again, some people think that is too warm!

    How's the "British" beer selection in PNW - any breweries making an authentic pint? I've never been to Oregon, though I found California to be a wasteland for good quality, authentic British style beer. Keep those Cascade hops out of my bitter!



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