Thursday, September 06, 2012

Sorachi Ace - a curate's egg of a hop ?

One of the strangest hops about is 'Sorachi Ace'. It just seems to divide opinion. People either like it or hate it, there seems to be no middle ground with it. Which I find a little strange.

The hop originates from Japan, which is unusual in itself, and has been around since around 2008, when it was produced to plug a gap when there was a shortage of Western hops. It is high in alpha acid, between 10-16% and imparts a flavour in beer that it similar to lemon, or at least it was back then. The problem with the hop is that later years' crops seem to taste more of lemongrass than lemon and has a vague background flavour that could be reminiscent of dill pickle according to some sources, or bubblegum according to others. This is probably why it divides opinion.

The real problem comes with how to use it. I am not a brewer but it seems that the taste is one that can easily be overdone if too many hops are used, and this, according to some brewers, is accentuated if hop pellets, rather that the hop itself is used. It is probably a hop that does not lend itself easily to a single hop variety beer, being better used in tandem with other varieties to give a background taste.

To be perfectly honest, although I know I have tasted the hop in single hopped beers, I have never knowingly encountered it with other hops, so I cannot be sure how it would taste then.
At present the Mallinsons single hop beer is around. If you see it, give it a go, see what you think. It could just be the taste you are looking for on a warm sunny day, or possibly not according to your taste.

2 comments:

Neil Harvey said...

Hey Tim - get yourself over to Tynemouth next week!! I've got the Iceni Sorachi Ace at 6%!!

Bob said...

Evidently it goes well in dark beers. Evidently Thornbridge use it in St Petersburg, not that I could tell...