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An education in hops

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Hops. They taste pretty great, right? But when you drink an IPA that’s brewed with a blend of hops, are you really able to appreciate the different flavor contributions of, say, Centennial, Cascade, Chinook and Citra? Single-hop IPAs are a fantastic way to acquaint oneself with the flavors each hop variety offers—I guzzle them down all the time in the spirit of….education? Yes. Education. But, seriously, you’d be surprised how much you can learn from a flight of single-hop beers.

What makes the new Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed Variety Pack so cool is that it actually breaks down—or, deconstructs!—the spotlight beer in the pack. Said spotlight beer, Latitude 48 IPA, is hopped with a blend of East Kent Golding, Mosaic, Hallertau Mittelfruh, Simcoe and Zeus. Thus, the pack includes Latitude 48 and the five single-hop beers that represent each variety in the blend.

If you’re thinking about picking up a pack, here’s how to get the most out of the experience—in the name of education!


Initial Latitude 48 IPA Tasting
Notes: A complex blend of juicy orange and grapefruit, some tropical notes, hints of pine and a touch of earthy pepper.

No. 1 East Kent Golding IPA
Notes: I didn’t realize this hop had so much apricot flavor. Bold, floral apricot with a touch of woodsy earthiness in the background.

No. 2 Mosaic
Notes: A delicious wash of pineapple, mango, berries and grapefruit. Some say this hop lends eucalyptus to the profile, but I didn’t quite pick up on that until it was suggested.

No. 3 Hallertau Mittelfruh
Notes: An understated, quiet balance of orange and pine, with a hint of black pepper.

No. 4 Simcoe IPA
Notes: Biting pink grapefruit with underscores of fresh pine needles. Hints of onion—some might even call it a cattiness—accents the sip.

No. 5 Zeus IPA
Notes: Not the most complex hop here. Its flavor is mainly piney, but with a resinous bitterness that really sticks to the tongue.

Returning to Latitude 48 IPA
After sampling the single-hop beers individually, your taste buds really do start to deconstruct Latitude 48 when you return to it. Now, even more specific flavors pop out: The apricot and tropical notes of East Kent and Mosaic, respectively, are in the forefront, while the remaining three hops seem to tie the whole sip together with piney, citrusy depth; the pepper of Hallertau and resinous bitterness of Zeus give the beer its edge.

Now that you’ve tasted and deconstructed the IPA, see if you can reconstruct it by blending the extra single-hop beers. I came close by starting with a touch of Zeus, and upping the volume a bit with equal pours of Simcoe and Hallertau. I then doubled those pours with equal parts Mosaic and East Kent. Now I want to blend beer for a living.

Test how well you’ve been paying attention. Ask your tasting buddy to present you with unmarked samples of the five single-hop beers, and then have a go at identifying them. I tried this with a somewhat respectable outcome: I tagged three out of five correctly, mixing up Zeus and Hallertau Mittelfruh.


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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