Brews News: Hot new strains are making craft brewers jump

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Talus, Loral, Jester, Callista, and Nectaron may seem like characters from a graphic novel to you, but to craft brewers, they’re words of inspiration.

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Talus, Loral, Jester, Callista, and Nectaron may seem like characters from a graphic novel to you, but to craft brewers, they’re words of inspiration.

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They are among the hot new hop brewers and beer students are eagerly playing to create new versions of popular styles like craft beer king, New England or juicy IPA.

“Some years it’s hard to keep up with new varieties,” Jon Downing of Niagara College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Management program told me. “Students have been brewing with a few recent strains over the past year.”

Brave Noise, the American pale ale brewed by breweries and homebrewers around the world to draw attention to inclusivity within the industry, used Sabro hops and piqued brewers’ interest in the variety .

Hop suppliers also offer blends of different varieties formulated with an eye – or perhaps a nose – for each variety’s best attributes. Yakima Chief used new varieties including Talus, Loral, HBC 630 and Triumph for a lab-tested blend this year that helps brewers take the guesswork out and gain batch-to-batch consistency.

“BSG also released a blend they called Nobility used in the booming craft lager market,” Downing said. “We’ve made some great pilsners and bocks using this.”

For ales, varieties such as Jester are making their way from farms to fermenters.

“(Hops supplier) Charles Faram offers varieties from the UK and Central Europe,” Downing said. “We’ve used Jester, Harlequin and Most for many great beers.”

Shayn Sawchuk, Technical Sales Advisor at Charles Faram’s Toronto office, says the insatiable demand for new versions of IPAs is driving the best in hops.

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The Vista hop variety is quite unique as the cones are extremely large.  (SANNERUD HOP CONSULTING)
The Vista hop variety is quite unique as the cones are extremely large. (SANNERUD HOP CONSULTING)

“The popularity of New England-style, hazy, hoppy beers still drives a lot of popular hops in craft brewing,” he said. “The style relies on bold hops with concentrated fruit characteristics. Some of the newer strains that fit this description are Nectaron, which is loaded with tropical fruit and stone fruit notes, and Vista, which displays aromas of melon, peach and pear. These hops have gained a lot of popularity in the United States over the past year, and I expect more and more of them to be brewed in Canada in the coming months.

Sawdust City of Gravenhurst brewed the unique West Coast IPA Two Pad Stack at 9% alcohol in collaboration with renowned blogger Drunk Polkaroo using Nectaron. Gatineau’s brewery 5e Baron de Gatineau used it for Sound Check, a New England-style IPA of similar strength.

Learning about the different hop varieties was in the spotlight when Anderson Craft Ales in London launched a series of single-hop beers to allow customers to familiarize themselves with the attributes of each variety.

“We used a good chuck on Sabro in our Juicy IPA and various other IPAs,” says brewer/owner Gavin Anderson. “I’m a big fan of it, it has lots of tangerine, tropical fruit and a hint of coconut.”

And while Lotus, with its orange juice and vanilla flavors, and Strata, with its passion fruit and great taste, have been used for Anderson beers recently, not all of the new varieties tried have been a success. Loral proved too grassy for Anderson’s team.

Strata features in Old East Village Brewery’s newest beer, Anderson New England Pale Ale at 5.5 percent alcohol.

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Fans of Storm Stayed in West London can look forward to planned new beers using Sabro, Talus and Loral.

If jam isn’t juicy, European-style craft lagers are for you. Much like IPAs, they can feature conversation-worthy jumps.

“If juicy, fruity beers aren’t your preference, we’re also seeing an increase in the popularity of European-style lagers,” Sawchuck said. “These beers rely heavily on the character and subtlety of the malt. It’s often what you don’t taste. They’re clean, smooth, and easy to drink, and mostly use old-school hop varieties that have been popular for hundreds of years.

Still Fields, near the community of Nottawasaga Bay in Meaford, uses Hallertau Hersbrucker hops to achieve delicate grassy notes in their lager. Sawchuk also highlights a beer from Quayle’s of Oro-Medonte: Right Bauer is a German-style pilsner brewed with the more modern, floral Saphir hops.

Hot and new or trusted for a century, the world of hops and the beers they help create await beer explorers like you.


NEW AND RATED

  • Imperial City’s enjoyable Milkshake IPA, with its Holstein-inspired label, is easier to find this summer. It is now on sale at select LCBOs. A very nice summer beer, the hops are discreet with a good taste of vanilla and mango that emerges in a brew that pays homage to an ice cream shake from a neighborhood restaurant. A sip with wide appeal, it deserves a place in your beer fridge this summer.
  • Fan of malt and maple? Elora Brewing has you covered this month with the small-batch Sap Season, a Canadian take on an English dark ale. Look for flavors of molasses, black licorice and dark rum. Sold at the brewery and via its online store.
  • A trip to pretty Elora is also a good time to shop around Guelph, where Wellington has a new batch of its Layback IPA. The Saisonal uses guava and coconut and is dry hopped with Sabro.

Wayne Newton is a London-based freelance journalist.

[email protected]

Twitter.com/WayneWriteOn

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