Predicting the effects of hop blending
Beer brands utilise a blend of specific hop varieties in their recipes to give it a distinct aroma and flavour. But if any of these hop varieties are in short supply, which is becoming more common with the arrival of novel hop varieties, this creates a problem for the brewer. Ongoing research is investigating techniques for predicting the sensory attributes of blending hops in beer. The aim of this work is to help the brewer accurately match the sensory profile of any aroma hop which may be in short supply, with a blend of alternative hops.
A selection of hop varieties were assessed using state of the art chemical analysis, and by our beer sensory panel as 'hop teas' and single varietal beers. We found that whilst hop teas were a poor predictor of final product characteristics, the data from pilot scale single varietal brews combined with hop aroma profiles could be meaningfully evaluated. We then attempted to develop a hop blend to mimic the aromas and flavours provided by the hop Amarillo, which is both expensive and in short supply. We selected another variety with similar characteristics, and then blended it with a second hop variety that essentially plugged the gap in terms of specific aroma notes. We were very encouraged to find that this blending strategy resulted in a product that our expert beer tasters could not distinguish from the original Amarillo-hopped beer.
We are currently looking at the best times to add hops during the brewing process, and at the effects of dry hopping on final product characteristics.