Back in January of this year (that’s 2023, if you’re a disoriented time-traveller), we introduced a lineup of 3 beers as an inaugural release in our Experimental Series. This series is a foray into the very ingredients that make the beer, taking a look at how subtle changes in an ingredient can impact the final outcome of a beer. Sheer Terroir, our first release in this series, was a West Coast IPA split 3 ways and each dry-hopped with Citra grown in three different regions of the northwestern United States. For more on Sheer Terroir and the birth of the Experimental Series, check out our blog here.
The impact of terroir on beer is significant—and it may come as a surprise to some that it can be decidedly perceptible in hops, influencing the flavour, aroma, and bitterness, ultimately shaping the beer that they are used to brew.
There is much to experiment within the world of terroir, yet not all of it is out of our control. Soil, climate, weather, elevation, daylight hours, coastal proximity, and landscape are all examples of factors that are out of our control. But what about factors that we do have a say over? Fashionably Punctual addresses exactly that: an influence terroir that we can choose. In this case, we’re looking specifically at the pick date of our hops.
We teamed up with New Zealand’s Freestyle Hops to embark on our experiment with harvest timing, comparing two pick windows of Nelson Sauvin hops roughly 10 days apart.
Here's a breakdown of each beer's specific hop profiles:
We harvest our hops at the peak of their flavour and aroma intensity, but we also harvest over targeted harvest window to achieve the spectrum of flavours and aromas that Nelson Sauvin is capable of displaying. Harvest timing has a huge impact on the flavour and aroma profile of a hop and Freestyle Nelson spans the later portion of the larger possible flavour spectrum for this hop. Our earlier harvest Freestyle Nelson displays a white-winey, citrusy brightness, whereas later harvested lots have a much more sweet-tropical, cannabis character, with passion fruit nectarine notes. The citrus notes in a late harvest Freestyle Nelson lean more towards grapefruit. It’s exciting to see the impact of harvest timing on the flavour and aroma profile of Nelson Sauvin and to experience the spectrum of flavours and aromas that early and late harvest Freestyle Nelson displays.
Our Experimental Series is thus far offering some insightful results, and it's only serving to make us even more excited for future endeavours in this range. And believe us, there will be future endeavours.
In the mean time, crack a beer with us—for science.