I got a head start on #IPADay by sampling a few of the Mikkeller Single Hop IPAs earlier this week. Mikkeller brewed nearly 20 IPAs, all with the exact same recipe using only a single hop variety, with the only difference between each beer being the use of a different hop. With everything being equal except for the hops this allows for a better chance at evaluating the differences between the different hop varietals.
I picked up the Cascade, Palisade and Columbus offerings and drank them all side by side for comparisons sake. Each one of them is 6.8% and looked more or less the same (same color and head retention). To better let the hop smells and flavors come out I left them all warm up to about 6oF. I found each one of them fairly sweet, with quite a bit of caramel flavors which seemed to detract from the hops being front and center.
Due to the different hops each beer had a different IBU with the Cascade coming in the lowest at 38 IBU. Out of the three hops used here, Cascade might be the one I am most familiar with, thanks to the use of it in Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. It smelled and tasted very floral. The first sip was almost like eating a flower in a salad. It’s not overly bitter but the bitterness does linger. There’s some grapefruit smells and tastes in there as well.
The Palisade IPA came in at 47 IBU, but it actually tasted less bitter than the Cascade version. It was sweeter and a little fruity. I later read that Palisade hops sometimes have an apricot like taste, which I never would have come up with on my own but certainly fit the taste. I didn’t taste any citrus, which is a common flavor in many hops.
The Columbus IPA was the heavy hitter in the trio with a whopping 114 IBUs. It was bitter, more bitter than the previous two but it certainly didn’t seem over twice as bitter as the Palisade IPA or three times as bitter as the Cascade version. It smelled much more like a “typical” west coast IPA, but also had a bit of a chemical smell. It had flavors reminiscent of pine and citrus as well as being a bit spicy.
None of these three blew me away as beers. I don’t think I would drink any of them on their own, but it was great to drink them side by side, and the 6oz of each was perfect (I split each bottle with my brother). It certainly did highlight the differences with each hop, with each of these smelling and tasting very different. It also highlighted how important a good recipe is, just dumping a bunch of hops in a beer won’t lead to a good IPA, brewers must use the right combination of hops, in the right amounts to come up with a truly great IPA.
Bottlecraft will be doing a flight of these three, plus the Single Hop Magnum version tomorrow in honor of #IPADay. The flight of four will cost $11. I picked these three up at Bottlecraft, the Cascade was $5.30 and the Palisade and Columbus were $5.50 each, all in 11.2oz bottles.
Photo by Chris Hammett.