Author Topic: Cluster and Onion  (Read 643 times)

Offline morticaixavier

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Cluster and Onion
« on: January 02, 2015, 06:32:28 PM »
Hey all,

I've got some hops in the freezer that are from some random wild bine near the river in Sacramento. I'm guessing they are cluster as that is the standard 'hops gone wild' variety in northern California. I had a beer brewed exclusively with these same hops, same harvest, same bines. and it tasted like the California cluster hops I've used in the past (Ivanhoe, which is the registered trademark name of a California cluster variety that a local hop farm has registered).

The flavor and aroma are heavy on pineapple, but this batch had a noticeable onion character in the single hop beer. I'm not planning to use them exclusively in this upcoming brew and I remember some discussion of onion character in summit and boil time.

figured I would put the call out and see if the group wisdom had input on when best to use these hops to avoid or minimize the onion character.

Background on the batch:

the malt is all home malted grain medium high kilned base malt with a small addition of home malted crystal and cara malts for character.

I've got some cascade and Willamette grown by my homebrew club as well.

ideas? thoughts?
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Cluster and Onion
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2015, 06:49:06 PM »
The wisdom on the onion/garlic thing is that it's related to when in the growing season the hops were harvested. And I'm sure soil 'terroir' could play a part, too. I've experimented several times to try to isolate when the onion gets better and worse with random results, which to me lends credence to the harvest thing. I remember a guy last year posting to use a Summit addition at around 15-20 minutes left to avoid the onion, and none after. I've read somewhere that the Simcoe cattiness can be worse when you dry hop it, but I've never noticed that.

Does the onion dissipate at all as the pint sits ? Martin posted that he had a beer that was heavy on onion/garlic, but that it dissipated 5-10 minutes after pouring. If it doesn't, the Cascade and Willamette might be a safer route.
Jon H.

Offline kramerog

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Re: Cluster and Onion
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2015, 06:53:14 PM »
I don't recall conversations regarding boil time, but I do remember conversations about copper eliminating onion flavor in beer.  I have some brass fittings in the brewery and have not noticed any onion in the one beer I made with Summit in a hop stand. 

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Cluster and Onion
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2015, 06:58:56 PM »
I don't recall conversations regarding boil time, but I do remember conversations about copper eliminating onion flavor in beer.  I have some brass fittings in the brewery and have not noticed any onion in the one beer I made with Summit in a hop stand. 

I've always used a copper IC and I've made couple Summit beers that were like onion soup. I've never been able to find any kind of pattern to it.
Jon H.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Cluster and Onion
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2015, 07:01:33 PM »
I think some of it's a matter of taste. Personally, if I can detect any onion in a beer I'm done with it. Much like diacetyl above the flavor threshold, it is a fatal flaw for me. Others don't mind a touch of it in an IPA.

I can't speak personally about copper or letting it offgas, but I do know it doesn't age out in the bottle. My single-hopped Summit beer still tasted like onion rings after two years in the bottle.
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Re: Cluster and Onion
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2015, 10:10:49 PM »
I have to agree with Jon on this one.  Terroir and growing season play a huge role when it comes to growing Cluster.  I am drinking a British-style IPA that I made with 100% 2014 Puterbaugh Farms (the farm that owns Hops Direct) whole Cluster (bittering charge and sub-180F hopstand), TF Pearl, a dash of Cara Munich, and a mystery British ale strain that I acquired from U.C. Davis.  It is a delightful pint. 

With that said, I have received Cluster in the past from other brokers that was pure litter box.  I have not received any Cluster that reeked of onion, which leads me to believe that you may have a Cluster/native hybrid.  The only way to know for certain is to have the cones analyzed.

Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Cluster and Onion
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2015, 12:50:08 AM »
I have to agree with Jon on this one.  Terroir and growing season play a huge role when it comes to growing Cluster.  I am drinking a British-style IPA that I made with 100% 2014 Puterbaugh Farms (the farm that owns Hops Direct) whole Cluster (bittering charge and sub-180F hopstand), TF Pearl, a dash of Cara Munich, and a mystery British ale strain that I acquired from U.C. Davis.  It is a delightful pint. 

With that said, I have received Cluster in the past from other brokers that was pure litter box.  I have not received any Cluster that reeked of onion, which leads me to believe that you may have a Cluster/native hybrid.  The only way to know for certain is to have the cones analyzed.

Fresh Cluster is a fine hop, and Hopsdirect may have the best that homebrewers can get. The catty aroma and flavor come in when old.

Most things I have seen say that the onion/garlic is harvest time related. The hybrid thing is a possibility.
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