Hop Products Australia (HPA) sales and marketing manager Owen Johnston has launched a new beer brand that aims to showcase how individual hops perform at different dose rates and applications.
Hop Trial Beer Co (HTBC) is Johnston’s own, separate venture and will release single-hop beers in small, keg-only quantities to speciality beer venues around Australia.
First up he has used the facilities of his former employer, Moo Brew, to create an Ella Pale Ale that will begin making its way out to venues from this Friday onwards.
All HTBC beers will feature tap decals declaring the precise quantity of hops added to the whirlpool and at the dry hopping stage, in millilitres of oil per hectolitre.
“I’m trying to get the conversation around hop usage to move towards millilitres of oil per hectolitre instead of just a dose rate of grams per hectolitre,” Johnston told Australian Brews News.
“It’s something I think should be more common in the language around hop use and beer flavour. If you’re using 100 grams per hectolitre in your dry hop, the actual amount of flavour active oils that you put into that beer may well vary quite significantly batch by batch or season by season.”
First up is an Ella Pale Ale featuring HPA’s Ella hop variety added at six millilitres per hectolitre (6.0WP) in the whirlpool and later dry hopped at four millilitres per hectolitre (4.0DH).
“At six in the whirlpool and four in the dry hop it has some really nice tropical notes, but before we dry hopped it, it was a really complex floral and spice arrangement,” Johnston said.
“I think it would be really fascinating to go back and drop the dry hop out and see how it tasted with just the whirlpool addition.
“In building up sensory data points for beer nerds out there about the performance of a hop, it could give people some unique insight into why that beer tastes the way it does based on the single hop used in that style.”
While Ella is first up, Johnston stressed that he is not beholden to HPA’s proprietary varieties and future beers will certainly showcase international hop varieties.
“I chose Ella because I think it’s a fascinating hop that’s maybe not getting the profile it deserves. I wanted to deepen my understanding of it as a brewer, but also as a hop merchant,” he said.
Johnston said HTBC will stay focused on “easy drinking beer styles that people understand and are not cluttered by really high bitterness units or high alcohol or really dark malt bills”.
“I don’t think they are always the best vectors for showing a hop’s personality,” he said.
Ella Pale Ale is an American-style Pale Ale and you can certainly expect a Pilsner among the upcoming releases.
“I’ve got a soft spot for Pilsners and they open up a more delicate malt profile for lower dose rates, which will show up different properties of these hops,” he said.
“We can’t be throwing six mL and four mL into every beer, because the hops have a different personality down at lower dose rates.”
Former Moo Brew national sales manager John Burridge will be handling the sales is of the project.
“The old team’s back together, somewhat,” said Johnston.
He said that to complete the experimental process he wants to be able to get some feedback from consumers about their sensory impressions of hops at different dose rates.
“If we could get consumers engaged in conversations like that, it would be fascinating to be able to show people two different beers made almost exactly the same except for this one variable.”
There are 100 kegs available of HTBC Ella Pale Ale, which will be launched at 5pm this Friday, February 5 at The Whaler in Hobart, before making its way out to venues across the country.