One thing I’ve always liked doing is trying out some new hop varieties. Thanks to a heap of research by the hop breeders, they come up with new and exciting varieties all the time. One of these is Strata, previously known as X331, bred by the Indie Hops company. Here’s what they have to say:
“Strata, formally known as X-331, is Indie Hops’ first hop variety to be released out of our breeding program. Born in 2009, Strata is the progeny of an open pollinated Perle located at an Oregon State University experimental field in Corvallis, Oregon. From the get-go, this hop was out to impress. Between its strong disease resistance, vigorous growing habit, and complex layers of aroma, x331 rose to the top of an impressive group of competitors”
It has been described as passionfruit-meets-pot, I’d say that description is pretty much what you get in the aroma. Think of Galaxy or Mosaic but without that grassy/catty background you sometimes get.
With thanks to Dermott at Beerco, I got my hands on some to sample, and reading through the descriptions they mentioned it also works as a lager hop, so I got to it!
The recipe was pretty simple:
75% Weyermann Premium Pilsner malt (4kg)
18.9% Gladfield Vienna Malt (1kg)
3.8% Best Chit Malt (200g)
1.9% Weyermann Caramunich II (100g)
I added 0.1 tsp of Sodium Metabisuphite, 2g of Brewtan B to the mash as anti-oxidants along with 4g of Calcium chloride to my filtered strike water. Mash temp was 67C.
3g Strata First Wort Hop
10g Strata 20mins
20g Strata 10mins
20g Strata 5min
30g Strata Hopstand – 20 mins at 80C
I also added 2g of Brewtan B at 20 mins, 1 whirlfloc tab at 10mins and another 0.1tsp Sodium Metabisulphite to the boil.
I fermented with a healthy 1L starter of WLP860 Munich Helles – my current favourite lager yeast.
I added a further 60g of dry hops while fermenting, first addition of 20g was at about 3 days in, 2nd was 5 days in and the 3rd at 6 days.
With a 75 minute boil I ended up with 20 litres at an OG of 1.059 or so, and a calculated IBU of 43.
After fermentation finished, I had an FG of 1.014 or so, making this about the 6% ABV mark, probably on the strong side for a Pilsener but probably about right for an India Pale Lager (IPL), and with a lager like this, it’s debatable as to what it becomes classified as between what you’d call an IPL and New-World Pils.
Just, WOW! Everyone I’ve given this to has loved it. It’s a great malty lager thanks to the Vienna, German Pils malt, and the WLP860, along with a really great passionfruit note from the Strata. It’s not just straight passionfruit either, there’s a complex profile with dank and tropical fruit flavour, you’d swear it had actual passionfruit and pineapple in it.
There’s an amazing lacing all the way down the glass thanks to the copious amounts of hop oil in the Strata plus the chit malt.
At a brew club meeting last week we tried this and then had a beer that was done with 2kg of passionfruit pulp, and the difference between the beers’ passionfruit flavour was surprisingly not that large, going to show that Strata has that flavour in spades.
I’d definitely brew this again. The only adjustment I might make is to back off the Vienna and Caramunich a little as it turned out a really small amount darker than I would have liked, and maybe lower the mash temperature a little to get some more attenuation out of the yeast. The WLP860 yeast tastes great but does leave a lot of residual sugar behind, so if you want it to attenuate more than 75% you need to mash low + long (say 63C for 90 mins) or use a step mash for fermentability.