This week’s edition of Tasting Notes focuses on the fundamentals with a peek into the Hop Trial SMaSH Pack from Schlafly Beer (St. Louis, Missouri).
Schlafly Beer recently got back to the basics by creating and releasing the Hop Trial SMaSH Pack, a variety of four beers showcasing a Single Malt and Single Hop (SMaSH). The focus of this pack is to take a look at unique hop varieties from four different hop growing regions: Bramling Cross of England, Enigma of Australia, Eureka! of the United States, and Hallertau Blanc of Germany. This approach truly highlights everything these hops have to offer, and it allows the brewery to test out these varieties before they utilize them in future releases. The Hop Trial SMaSH Pack contains three bottles of each beer and was released last month to select retailers within Schlafly’s distribution area.
For the sake of my liver and a reduced word count, this post will concentrate on just one of the variations available in the Hop Trial SMaSH Pack. Since my heritage makes me a sucker for anything German, let’s jot down some Tasting Notes on Hop Trial – Hallertau Blanc.
Tasting Notes on Hop Trial – Hallertau Blanc from Schlafly Beer
Appearance: Hop Trial – Hallertau Blanc absolutely lives up to the name of its Golden Ale style by pouring up a shimmering golden with just a touch of more defined orange hues pushing through. Held to the light, the yellows brighten a bit but the overall color remains consistent regardless of light intensity. The body has a touch of haze to it, but that dissipates quickly as the beer warms and reveals a clean, clear appearance. The carbonation is moderate, displaying uniform lines of bubbles that industriously course their way to the head. The pour produced over a finger of chunky foam that is perfectly white. The head has great retention, falling incredibly slowly during the drink to eventually settle in as a half finger that lasts for the rest of the experience. Lines of lace are left at times, but a good portion tends to slip slowly back down the glass to return to the top cap.
Aroma: I am more than happy to find that this beer owns the overall intention of the SMaSH Pack by truly being an in depth look at the Hallertau Blanc variety. The aroma begins with a big floral bouquet that is fresh, clean and an easy reminder of a spring day’s splendor. A wisp of tropical and citrus fruits resides in the background only to be overtaken by an elegant white wine grape character ( lightly fruity, wonderfully earthy grape must aroma). The malt presence is light, providing balance with an almost wildflower honey-like quality. I cannot express how truly delightful this aromatic experience is.
Taste: The flavor leads off with that grape character, translating as a chardonnay note. There is then an easy transition to floral and grassy tones that are accompanied by just a grace of grapefruit and lemon zestiness. The hops are definitely pronounced, but they are in no way aggressively overbearing or ridiculously dank. This is thanks to a beautiful balance achieved by the light, sweet and biscuity malts. The malt presence is clean and stealthy to allow those hop notes to take center stage. The proper adjective to use here is elegant.
Mouthfeel: This brew is on the lighter side of medium in body with a lively carbonation level. The carb level mimics the prickliness of some white wines, and that even more so brings the beer together by creating cohesion between the aromatic and flavor profiles and the mouthfeel. The ABV is light and does not really make its presence known at all. Aftertaste is all floral hop notes.
Final Thoughts: Hop Trial – Hallertau Blanc is simply a wonderful experience overall and it easily achieves the goals for which this series was created. The base Golden Ale is a perfect canvas that allows this beautiful hop to exhibit those absolutely stunning floral and white wine notes unique to the Hallertau Blanc variety. This hop has so much to offer countless styles, and I now know that because the treatment of this variety in this offering makes me feel like I truly learned something from a beer. Incredibly well done and high praise to Schlafly for the achievement earned in the creation of Hop Trial – Hallertau Blanc and the Hop Trial SMaSH Pack as a whole. Prost!