A new experimental variety from Jackson Hop Farm in Wilder ID, Idaho 7 hops started appearing in a few beers in 2015. The hop was used in limited-release or taproom-only offerings from a handful of breweries (you may have had it in Sierra Nevada’s single-hop Harvest series, among others), who recorded profiles of “orange and apricot with hints of black tea,” “fruity, tropical, and light citrus,” and “ripe papaya and marmalade.”
If that appeals, good news: BSG HandCraft is now able to make a limited quantity of Idaho 7 hops available to homebrewers in the coming months of 2016. I got to take it for a test drive prior to general release.
One day not long ago we received a plain brown box from hop country with plain foil bags inscribed in plain black Sharpie – a mix of pelletized and whole Idaho 7. An ad hoc hop-rubbing committee was formed on the spot and noted powerful aromas of juicy fruit gum (That’s a tropical fruit, right? We are sophisticated.), sugared red grapefruit, and balsam fir. Fingertips became thoroughly yellow and sticky – both the pellets and the cones had a tangibly high quantity of aromatic oils.
A single-hop IPA is hardly an original way to showcase hop character, but it works: a good idea is a good idea. I opted to hopburst, with no additions prior to 10 minutes before end of boil, to maximize retention of all those lovely oils. Mid-weight gravity, simple malt bill with a good slug of German Munich for some warm roundness, and fermentation with a clean ale strain.
Five gallons, assuming 75% efficiency
Target OG: 1.056-1.058
Target IBU: ~60
8.5 lbs Rahr 2-row pale
2 lbs Weyermann® Munich Type 1
Mash at 152°F
2 oz Idaho 7 (14.1%aa, pellet) @ 10 minutes
2 oz Idaho 7 (14.1%aa, pellet) @ 5 minutes
1 oz Idaho 7 (14.1%aa, whole) @ flameout – steep 20 minutes
Cool wort to 64-66°F
Aerate/oxygenate and pitch a neutral ale yeast
Ferment to TG, incorporate D-rest if necessary
If your selected yeast strain isn’t cooperatively flocculent, consider using finings to facilitate quick turnaround for peak hop flavor
My ten gallon batch fermented out in about 5 days and was a hazy pale green from suspended pellet matter – but it smelled great.
After another ten days or so the green murk had been dragged down along with the yeast and the beer resolved into a clear, warm gold color. It went into kegs at exactly 21 days for crash-cooling and force-carbing.
In the glass, I got a punchy, strong fruity (pineapple, unripe peach, citrus pith) nose component with a bit of honey-biscuit business from the malt and yeast. Flavor – at least with this formulation – seemed to break more sweet-pine and brightly resinous with some clementine-like flashes before a waxy, bitter finish – a little caramel malt would have helped round that off (but if you’re into bitter and not just hoppy – if it ain’t broke … ). There seem to be occasional flashes of the black tea alluded to in other descriptions, but it’s the fruity, aromatic high notes of a fresh bag of Darjeeling or a tippy bright Assam, not the woodsy, earthy flavor of steeped leaves.
Idaho 7 seems like a great multifaceted hop along the lines of Mosaic, with different strong but not totally dominant aspects of its sensory profile. Like Mosaic, I think it would make a great solo feature hop but depending on what it was partnered with in a blend could play up its various qualities to nice effect in a range of styles.