Some of you who might follow me on Twitter may know that I dabble in home brewing when time allows and that I have children who have disgusting habits. This post has something to do with one of those things.
As I was amassing a recipe for an experimental beer, I spent
some an inordinate amount of time researching hop varieties. Their characteristics started to remind me of some of the players wearing the uniform that we root for. And since I'm sick and tired of writing about all the things that have gone wrong, well, it's hard to go wrong with beer. And sometimes beer helps me deal with all the things that have gone wrong.
And so, here is the Seattle Mariners Offense as whole leaf hops.
Kyle Seager - Cascade (U.S.)
Not to be mistaken with the New Zealand version of the Cascade hop, the U.S. version has a lower alpha acid and is generally described as quite pleasant. It has a distinct characteristic though, and if you have smelled a lot of hops, you know when you smell Cascade. The aroma has been described in several locales as "verdant" while the palate draws many references to citrus and even "spiciness." It's not overwhelming, but you just kind of have to have some around anytime you're brewing. Go ahead and use it at any point in the boil, it's versatile, it's really not going to upset anyone's sensibilities, but on it's own, it won't win any gold medals at GABF.
Mike Morse - Warrior
Warrior is bold with a strong bittering profile, considered to create that "big bite" that so many brewers are after and is widely lauded as a "generous grower." One of the limitations of Warrior is there really needs to be accompanying pieces surrounding it in order to have a balanced beer. Warrior lacks in the aroma department, so it's best utilized in recipes combining additional hop varieites as it struggles to stand on its own.
Raul Ibanez: Cluster
Did you know that Cluster hops are the oldest hop variety produced in the United States? Cluster is cheap and widely available on an annual basis and serves as a general purpose hop without much complexity. Cluster. I feel like I don't need to state the obvious here.
Mike Zunino - Belma
Belma hops were released in 2012, making it perhaps the newest hop variety out there. There was a ton of fanfare when folks in the industry first heard of Belma, and home brewers rushed to get their hands on the newest bestiest thing. And then the reviews were kind of mixed. Time will tell how Belma is best used, and whether it will actually stick around in a competitive market.
Justin Smoak - Newport
Newport really wasn't even supposed to be here today. Acquired from Hallertauer Magnum hops, they were actually engineered by the USDA, designed to battle mildew, which after a great deal of ambitious work, they did. But they're rarely used now because it was discovered they have a particular profile which creates off-flavors and have been described as "rather pungent."
Nick Franklin - Green Bullet
Green Bullet hops are here only because there was a specific problem with the existing regime of available hops. They were developed due to what was called the "Black Root Rot" which was plaguing native hops in New Zealand and a new direction was set out to find something that would be a little more successful in a hostile growing environment. Green Bullet is said to have a "unique zing" -- it's a dual-purpose hop, able to be used for bittering and aroma during the process. In its native country, it was widely considered to be the hop of the future, and it turns out they were right.
Brendan Ryan - Willamette
Without St. Louis, nobody would probably even know that Willamette exists. Willamette hops are the darling of the Anheuser-Busch behemoth, but as hops go, there's not much in the way of punch here -- as can be gleaned from many of the Anheuser-Busch products. The hop was designed to be consistent, mild, yet pleasant. The cones are historically small, which impacts yield during harvest. Willamette is also fairly resistant to mildew, so there's that.
Michael Saunders - Mount Hood
Mount Hood hops were bred from Hallertau, which has kind of an elegant spiciness to it -- but Mount Hood has turned out to be known as a pretty bland hop. Although it's frequently used, since it doesn't really have a refined signature, it's best used in beers that utilize other distinctive hop varieties -- or Mount Hood should just be used in beers that don't require much in the way of hop aroma or pizzazz.
Henry Blanco - Nugget
Nugget is frequently described as being generally unrefined and it is known for being cheap.
Kendrys Morales - Centennial
Considered by many to be a "Super Cascade" due to it's strength of bittering value, Centennial produces a hop flavor that's been described as a slightly "chunkier" bitterness. Centennial failed to catch on with the big brewers early in its career, but after impressing the craft brewers, and then smaller breweries, Centennial saw its popularity increase despite its flaws. Most consider Centennial best if combined in a blend of other hops.
Franklin Gutierrez - Northern Brewer
Northern Brewer has been used in the breeding process of many newer varieties as it has characteristics that are quite desirable. Northern Brewer possesses a strong profile and is considered to be pleasant on the nose and versatile. However, Northern Brewer is also known to be highly susceptible to disease and really needs to be handled with extreme care.