Sebago Brewing Company reached out to me recently, I’m pretty certain they’ve figured out that I like hoppy beers and they asked me to check out Idaho 7, a single hop IPA featuring Idaho 7, an experimental hop from a breeding program at Jackson Hop in Southern Idaho. Idaho 7 went on tap recently at Nocturnem Draft Haus alongside a collaboration brew they did with Sebago – a wonderful, hoppy Saison that was excellent – but Idaho 7 put the brakes on for me.
I swirled and sniffed, the aroma was sweet and heavy with tropical fruit, which isn’t really a show stopper these days, so I took a sip, set the glass down.
Wow, What is this hop? what does it remind me of? what am I tasting?
Take another sniff, another sip and set the glass down again. I taste Smarties, those round hard candies that come in a sleeve, not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. Sebago describes the aroma and flavor of Idaho 7 as “Marmalade, Tropical Fruit and Watermelon Candy” which I can see, I think it’ll still be the Smartie hop to me though.
At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of this beer or this new hop, it lends or at least accentuates a candy like sweetness in the beer that I generally dislike in an IPA, I do however dig that tropical fruit aroma and always did love smarties, it took a few sips, half the beer actually before I realized Idaho 7 had grown on me.
It’s been a few days and I’m still thinking about Idaho 7, that experimental hop was an attention grabber, I don’t usually get hung up like that on any particular hop variety, the only other one is El Dorado and that’s because I hate the flavor, I’m not sold on Idaho 7 being the polar opposite of El Dorado for me, I’m not sure I love it, it just stands out from the pack. Idaho 7, to my knowledge is a Sebago Brewpub only beer, they just happened to bring it along to Nocturnem, I’m not sure how long it’ll be around for, but the good news is Sebago included Idaho 7 in the newest iteration of Hop Swap.
Hop Swap is aptly named, the base beer stays the same and the hop schedule changes, or swaps, this time out it’s a blend of Idaho 7, Mosaic and Simcoe. I had a chance to try Hop Swap and it doesn’t display the hop characteristic of Idaho 7 in full force due to the blend and I doubt their hopping schedule matched up to the single hop beer but you still get that big tropical fruit almost jam or marmalade-like aroma up front, the sweetness is dialed back but a little bit of that hard candy like flavor still lingers in the aftertaste.
I like that Sebago is trying out new hop varieties and that they can put a beer on tap that makes me stop and sip and think about the flavors, I’m not the homebrewer I used to be but a hop like this makes me wonder how it could be used in different batches of beer.
So now I want to know, what hop varieties out there stop you in your tracks? If a brewer lists their hops on the can which ones can’t you resist? If you are a homebrewer what are the hop varieties that speak to you, that you find yourself incorporating into your brews the most often? Tell me in the comments below.