I want to get a better understanding of hop additions and their effect on taste.

Flasher had an OG of 1.079 and IBU of 80+, yet I could barely taste bitterness. Instead I got an overpowering taste of Simcoe. All Centennial also lacked bitterness and had an intense hop taste and a touch of sweetness.

Where did the bitterness go? And where did the intensity come from?

I’ve read that bittering hops don’t impart flavour, but I’ve also read that strong aroma hops do leave traces of flavour around. Is it possible that the bittering additions, rather than just creating bitterness, left behind traces of flavour – like a stewed tea-bag? Or did that flavour really come from the flavouring and dry-hop additions?

And what level of bitterness should a high amount of IBUs leave behind?

It was around the time that I was thinking these questions that I decided to search for an Anchor Liberty Ale clone. According to “Designing Great Beers” and another source I found, Liberty Ale is made with one hop only: Cascade. It’s one of my favourite beers – perfect bittering, and beautiful hop taste.

The recipe I found uses one bittering addition of Cascade and one dry-hop addition of Cascade. No flavouring. No aroma.

What better way for me to do some hop testing than with this recipe? I can make the beer with the suggested single hop addition for bittering, bottle some, and then dry-hop the rest. From the non-dry-hopped, I’ll be able to see whether using Cascade for bittering leaves behind any hop taste. From the dry-hopped, I’ll be able to see just the effect that dry-hopping has. And you never know, unlikely though it might be that Liberty Ale has such a simple recipe, I might actually end up with a semi-close Liberty clone!

I decided to make this an extract recipe with steeping grains, mainly for speed. I’ll be using the water canister rather than a proper primary for this so there’s a chance it will go tits-up, but fingers crossed it will be OK.

Initial taste of the wort from the hydrometer was very bitter and I didn’t notice anything from the Cascade – it was just sweet and very bitter. But then I’ve had beers taste like that before and they change during fermentation, so I’m reserving judgment for now.

I’m thinking to continue this experiment with another which has the same bittering but adds flavour and aroma additions. Before adding the aroma addition, I’d split the wort in two and add aroma only to half. If I do this I could have all these to compare with: (1) bittering only, (2) bittering + dry hop, (3) bittering + flavour, (4) bittering + flavour + dry hop, (5) bittering + flavour + aroma, (6) bittering + flavour + aroma + dry hop. The only thing missing would be leaving out the bittering – if necessary I could do that test also.

Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone – Extract + Steeping

Boil volume: 3.7 US Gallons / 14L
Anticipated final volume: 3.2 US Gallons / 12.1L

Anticipated OG: 1.057
Actual OG : 1.061 (adjusted to 25 degrees)

Grain (all precrushed) / DME:
145g Crystal 27L
145g Crystal 40L
1.74kg Muntons Extra-light Spraymalt

Predicted IBU based on anticipated OG: 59.
I didn’t make adjustments for using a hop bag because my hop bag is very large.
60m 42.5g Cascade leaf 7.2%
Dry hop: 9.1g Cascade (I’ll adjust this down depending on how long I bottle)

As per my step by step guide. Steeping temp was 68-71 degrees, for 30 minutes. All DME added at the beginning of the boil.

S-04, half a pack. I could have used American yeast for this but I want to keep the yeast consistent with the other IPAs I’ve made.