From the Ministry of Enlightenment

By Wendy Aaronson & Mike Reinitz, Co-Ministers of Enlightenment

March Meeting

In January, Mike Reinitz gave you an overview of the 2016 BJCP styles. In March, we will conduct a tasting of some of the newer styles. We will try to have at least 2 commercial examples of a style so that we can compare, contrast and score. Wendy Aaronson will talk about yeast and yeast management.

We will conduct a Brewer’s Corner starting around 2:30 pm. These are casual discussions where you share your beer with some fellow homebrewers, talk about your recipe & process, and receive critical feedback in return. We always invite 2 or 3 advanced brewers/judges to join in so that you can get the best advice possible. If you have a beer that you’re looking for feedback on outside of the monthly competition, bring a bottle or two to share at the Brewer’s Corner…it can be any style!

We want enlightenment to be relevant. As always, we are looking for suggestions for educational activities. Please email us at

April Meeting

At this meeting, we will have a lot of Spirit of Free Beer leftovers for another fun educational session. Last year, 3 person teams selected competition beers and were asked to taste, give these an overall score, and then defend the score against the score that BJCP Grand Master Tom Cannon gave it. Maybe we’ll have a repeat performance. Stay tuned.

Ongoing Education and Free Beer: We also want to promote opportunities to brew with members and learn from each other. If you brew at the Aaronridge brewery, there may even be an opportunity to take 5 gallons home on the condition that a growler or 2 comes to a meeting.

Hop Profile Tasting

At the February meeting, Bob Rouse provided samples of his single hop pale ale that Wendy Aaronson used to conduct a guided tasting and experiment. Bob made wort for a 5 gallon batch of American Pale Ale and split it up into 5 separate boils and boiled each one with a single hop. He tried to get the IBU’s consistent. He used Centennial, Simcoe, Galaxy, Northern Brewer and Willamette. Emily Michelsen, Mark Hogenmiller, Jeanne Burns, Thomas Sords, Ralph and Chris Barthold participated in the tasting. We tasted each sample without knowing which hops were used and the panel wrote notes that described the flavor profile. Afterward, they received the list of hops and we discussed each. The panel referred to their notes and identified the hop that best fit with their notes. Each was surprised at how difficult it was to match their description with the hop. Many were surprised at some of the descriptors used for the associated hops. The following table summarizes the first impression vs the market description of flavor profile. Note that no one used mango or tropical to describe the beer with Galaxy.

Hop Panel’s Descriptors Market Descriptors
Northern Brewer earthy and grassy, somewhat spicy (peppery), sour fruit, floral, and juicy fruit (melon) pine and mint
Galaxy citrus, white grapefruit, citrus rind, kitty litter tropical fruit flavors, mango and passionfruit, maybe a hint of peach and orange
Centennial fruity, floral, chamomile/orange, perfumy/flowery, citrus/grapefruit Medium intensity floral and citrus (lemon) tones


Willamette fruity, pear, spicy, earthy, musky, floral flowers, fruit, earth and spice


Simcoe orange, lemon, grapefruit, floral, pineapple, pine Intense pine aroma; passionfruit, pine, earth and citrus


Equal portions of 2 beers were mixed and the panel was asked to describe the profile. They were also asked to identify the 2 hops. Again, the panel was surprised at how difficult it was to match the hops with the flavor profile. The table summarizes the results.

Hop Panel’s Descriptors
Northern Brewer & Galaxy Tropical/date, cat piss, earthy citrus, meaty fruit, e.g., peach, earthy/citrus
Centennial and Simcoe Piney, resiny, tropical/floral, citrusy/mint, tropical, grapefruit, pithy/sharp


The tasting was fun and educational. The blind tasting is difficult. Not surprising, citrus is a flavor that everyone can perceive. Earthy & spicy is more difficult. Only 1 person detected the pine flavor associated with Simcoe. No one identified the tropical or mango flavors associated with Galaxy. However, when the beers were combined, 5 of 6 panelists identified tropical flavor in the sample. Do you think it was because they knew it was a possibility or did they really taste it? Was there a synergistic interaction of Northern Brewers with Galaxy that resulted in a prevailing tropical fruit profile? When Centennial and Simcoe were combined, the citrus predominated. A couple of individuals detected the pine characteristic even though they didn’t detect it in the single hop. Everyone agreed that single hops are boring. The mixed beers were perceived as fuller and had a greater depth of flavor.

This initial experiment piqued my curiosity. It would be fun to expand the number of panelists and do this in a more controlled fashion. Steve Marler thought something like this would be a good session at the American Homebrewer’s Conference. Too late for this year, but maybe next.