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Brewed a IPA yesterday:

75% 2 row

5% crystal 20

5% crystal 40

10% melanoidin

5% table sugar

I was using Jamil's (Vinnie Cilurzo's? Tasty McD's?) IPA as a baseline recipe, which calls for something like the following:

1oz horizon 60 min

1oz centennial 20 min

1oz amarillo 10 min

1oz cascade 5 mi

1oz centennial FO

I had some Caliente's I wanted to use, but instead of using only one varietal at each addition, I blended each addition so it was more like the following:

20 min - .3oz centennial, .3 oz amarillo, .3oz caliente

10 min - .5oz cent, .5oz cascade, .5oz amarillo

etc. etc.

Does anyone know the benefits of this method? I was looking to get a more layered, complex hop profile particularly in the flavoring/aroma. FYI, I bittered with .75 oz magnum @ 60, with a 90 min boil.

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3 Answers

Blending hops can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can increase the complexity of the addition (be it bitterness, flavor or aroma), but on the other hand, they can produce something that is diffuse - not clearly defined.

With a single hop addition, you get only the qualities of that hop. If it's a great hop, then it's a great addition. But if it's a rough tasting hop, then the addition may also come out as such, or need conditioning for a long time to smooth it out.

In contrast, a hop blend tends to smooth over all the qualities of the hops added, since each hop is added in lower quantities compared to a single hop addition. You neither get the best nor the worst qualities, but a average of all of them. Only common qualities will be acutely pronounced.

For your 3 - amarillo, cascade, caliente, they are all citrussy hops. (I've not brewed with caliente, it's not come to Norway yet, but a forum post says it's citrussy and works in IPAs.) So you can expect the result to also be quite a nice citrus, but with a "wider"/"bigger" more rounded flavor.

While it sounds fine on paper, experience is the only way to really know how hop combinations work out. Let us know how it turns out!

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There are no defined benefits that can be provided as a definitive answer. You have to brew it, try it and see if that blend makes for a nice complex hop character for your palate.

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This may help to extend @mdma's answer a bit and direct you to a good resource (or just help you think through the problem in a different way).

According to Designing Great Beers, different chemical flavor elements in the hops are transformed (e.g. oxygenated) by boiling at different rates. This is, as you probably know, the reason why bittering hops are added at 60 minutes, flavor a bit later, and aroma last of all. Of course, some of the transformation is actually just vaporization and loss. But there are other chemical processes occurring over time as well that alter the compounds, and thus flavor and aroma. I highly recommend reading the hop chapters in that book for a more complete explanation.

In your case, you've taken single-hop additions at different times and sliced them up into multi-hop additions. So instead of getting the 1-hop+boil time flavor/aroma from each specific hop (e.g. the flavor of centennial boiled for 20 minutes), you're mixing in the flavors and aromas from each hop at each add-point.

This will do what it is I think you intend to do, which is provide a more complex hop profile. You're not going to be able to taste the beer and recognize a single flavor hop or a single aroma hop.

That said, the benefit to either method is in how it gets you to the beer-goal you have in mind. Do please update us on your result! :)

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upvote! will do. Read DGB awhile back but am definitely due for a refresher! –  Pietro Dec 14 '12 at 15:23
    
I've just added it to my Xmas wishlist... Here's hoping :) –  Mark McDonald Dec 19 '12 at 2:57
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