Monday, June 2, 2014

Binford Pale Ale Tasting Notes: Azacca Trials

My daughter wanted to get in the photo, don't worry the glass was not knocked over...this time.
This has been a really fun collaboration, from recipe formulation over email, to brewday, and then sharing the three variants at our Homebrew club meeting, it's been a fun and informative experiment for all if us. The beer has gone over well, I think we did a good job in showcasing elements of all three of our brewing styles in the final product. From the bright aromatic hop character to the toasty malt backbone you can definitely pick up on each of our own brewing styles. 

Sean's version of the beer is more "English" (in my opinion) with the malt and hops in proper balance, while John and my own versions are a little bit more tropical and hop forward. We presented the three versions to our Homebrew club and got some great feedback, we discussed what our goals for the beer were and our differences in process. 

Some people preferred anyone one of the three versions depending on their personal tastes. Some people had a hard time differentiating mine (s04) and Johns (Conan) myself included. There were some raised eyebrows that s04 did so well in a hoppy beer like this, especially going head to head with Conan. Not many had heard of Azacca but it seemed to go over well, tropical, Simcoe like, among other descriptors, I think people will be interested in trying the hop. 

A popular topic of conversation was how each of our dry hop procedures differed. We each dry hopped for only 4-5 days, John used a nylon bag right in primary. Sean took the more traditional approach by racking to secondary in glass, adding the dry hops and then transferring to the keg. 

I plan to do a more detailed post on how I dry hop, but the short of it is I rack from primary into a co2 purged keg, add the dry hops in a nylon bag then remove after 4-5 days all at room temp, then into the fridge and force carb. There is a little more to it but that's the gist, and it works to lessen oxidation by only one transfer. I get some very bright aromatic beers this one. The Binford Pale Ale is now different in that regard. 

Binford Pale Ale Tasting notes:
All 3 versions in a blind tasting, prior to presenting to the club.

Appearance: Crimson reddish brown color, hazy, with a slightly off white head that leaves very significant lacing on the glass. 

Aroma: Fruity, slight tropical note that was much more prevalent when it was younger. Now the malt bill and the hop aroma are starting to balance each other out. Almost like an aromatic bread topped with a tropical fruit Mellody (See what I did there?).

Flavor: Clean bitterness, bright sharp Hoppiness, giving way to a toasty malt backbone and a dry finish. This is a very well rounded beer, it's been compared to DogFish 60 min in both the malt character and the hop flavors. Azacca did well alone in this beer. 

Overall: We are all very happy with how this beer turned out, its bright, hoppy, refreshing and has a great malt presence to back it up. I won't hesitate to use Azacca again, and may even go back to this malt bill again. I could see this being a great fall seasonal type beer.


  1. Awesome. I loved this hop when I made a "single hop saison" with it (it wasn't actually a single hop, it was bittered with a high aa hop...all the late additions were azacca).

    The saison was well received, it was like lemon grass with a nice floral note. The Dupont yeast might not have been the best choice to pair with this hop though.

    1. Great post Matt. Its interesting that you had a bit of a different experience with Azacca than I did, although our two beers are vastly different. We got every bit of the characteristics that Yakima Valley suggested in this beer, maybe its the difference in our whirlpool additions and large dry hopping rates. Thanks for sharing, Cheers!

  2. Do you know the fermentation schedule for the s04? I'm intrigued by the Conan characteristics.

  3. I have used it a fair amount recently, I usually pitch cool at 60F then let it free rise to 64F and hold there for 14 days. I may ramp it up to 70F after 4-5 to get a little high AA%.

    I am really digging how the esters of S04 pair with the more tropical hops. It deffinitely shared for characteristics with Conan in this beer.