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Waging War Against El Dorado Hops

One of the coolest things that has started to develop over the past few years in craft beer is more and more breweries are making single-hop Pale and India Pale Ales. For the most part brewers use a blend of multiple hops that combine bittering and aromatic characteristics that result in a great tasting beer. For these single-hop beers they use just one hop throughout the entire brewing process and in other cases there may be some bittering hops but then just one hop used towards the end of the boil and for dry-hopping. Regardless of the method chosen the end product is a beer that showcases the smell and taste of a specific hop. One of the goals I had a few years ago was to become more familiar with the smells and tastes from the different hop varieties and breweries have made it increasingly easier for me to achieve that goal.

Cascade hops are the reason we're all here right now and we have Sierra Nevada pale ale to thank for that. For a period of time anything that was hopped with citra was the hottest ticket in town and to be honest I'd still go out of my way to drink anything heavily hopped with citra. I could go on and talk about Mosaic, Galaxy, Amarillo, Nelson hops etc but you get the picture. All of them are delicious, and once you get to know them you'll have the chance to seek out beers that feature those hops. There is however another variety of hops called El Dorado that doesn't invoke such enjoyable flavors and it needs to go away. It needs to go away the same way Bud Light Lime needs to go away. That may or may not be a slight hyperbole but you get where I'm going with this.

My first dance with this hop was from an Other Half release a few months back.The beer was less than a week old purchased directly from the brewery and my first reaction was that something was wrong, maybe a flaw in the brewing process? It tasted like a cheap, macro-lager that had been sitting around for too long. When you look up various flavor profiles of this hop you see things like pear, watermelon, melon and stone fruit; all of which are things that I would think I'd like in a beer but none of those things seemed to come out in this beer. My second encounter with this hop was at New England Brewing Co., another venerable brewing institution and I had the same result. The flavors were flat, wet cardboard and unpleasant bitterness. Then came the much anticipated release of Grimm's Lambo Door, not a single-hop beer but El Dorado was a feature hop in that beer as well. At first I thought I was crazy because people were talking about this beer like it was best thing since sliced bread and after trying it several times, both on draft and from a can (poured into a glass) I just couldn't find myself to like it. And then it hit me, those damn El Dorado hops were raining on my beer parade again!

I'm not actually saying brewers should stop using El Dorado hops but on my path of learning more about different hop varieties I found one that I truly hate. More importantly this shouldn't stop you from trying beers that feature El Dorado because you might actually like it. I'll probably look at you like you're crazy but that should't stop you, I think a lot of people are crazy.

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