Paddy and I thought it’d be a good thing to share some thoughts on single hopping a generic brew to see the effects and possibilities of an individual hop variety on the same base wort.
We’ve reviewed a couple of single hop craft beers on the site previously and think it’s actually a really useful tool available to home brewers to allow us to fully appreciate what a hop variety is capable of.
Firstly select a generic grain bill. This will remain consistent throughout all of the single hop brews you produce. There are no hard and fast rules here, go as simple or as complex as you want. Just be sure that you will be producing a decent beer with the grain you choose, and always brew your wort in the exact same way, so as to best compare the different hop characters (namely bitterness, flavour and aroma). Think of the this as the canvas on which each hop variety is painting its own unique picture.
As a simple guide, you could try the below ale:
5kg Two Row Pale Ale Malt
Mash for one hour at 66C
Then rest for 10 mins at 79C
Boil 60 mins (and hop as below)
Use the old faithful, American Ale yeast 1056
Ferment for one week at 18-22C
Now, you want to decide on the hop additions you want to do. Ideally, you’d do the same timings and amounts of each. At a bare minimum do:
A bittering addition (60 mins)
A flavour addition (Somewhere in the 15-5 mins range)
An aroma addition (0 mins/flameout)
You can add as many extra additions as you see fit, the world is your oyster. We’d also highly recommend a dry hop addition (after day three of active fermentation). Cannot stress how much fresh hop character dry hopping can add to a brew, phenomenal.
So, you’ve settled on your malt bill, your mash temps and times, your hop schedule, your yeast, and your fermentation temp...Won’t you just get essentially the same beer I hear you ask?
INCORRECT YOUNG GRASSHOPPER! All of your variation now comes from within the hops themselves. Various hop varieties have been purpose bred for different attributes, the alpha acids levels are different, the lupulin levels are different, it’s all different people!
So all other things being equal, mosaic hops will produce a very different end product to pride of ringwood, or galaxy, or cascade, or chinook, or fuggle, or or or...you get the point.
So are all hops created equal? No. Some hop varieties are much better suited to bittering, some are going to add aroma and not much else etc. Look for some good “all rounder” type hops (at least initially). Of course, Paddy will choose mosaic, and rightly so. I’ll probably suggest galaxy just as a point of difference. Cascade is another great example for this exercise that a lot brewers love, and you’ll get a real great tasting brew with this faithful classic no doubt.
If you have the capacity (both time and fermentation wise), I’d recommend doing two or even three single hop ales at once. That way you can do a side by side comparison while the freshness of the beer is equal also. If this isn’t an option, try writing down tasting notes on each at the same age, and compare your notes.
And as always here at suburban brewing, we say feel free to go get a little crazy once you get the hang of it. Wanna include midnight wheat in your base wort? Go nuts! How about a gluten free single hop ale? Fill your boots! The sky is the limit, just remember if you want to compare these beers (and again I’ll stress it really is a great learning tool for home brewers), it’s gotta be apples with apples so to speak, so aim for consistency in everything but the hop variety.
Oh and if you’re thinking of asking why I focused on ales in this post and ignored lagers...go ahead, make my day!
Check out our review of the Pirate Life Mosaic single hop IPA here.