Let’s Talk Hops September 2016 – Sorachi Ace Hop Profile
- Saturday, 03 September 2016
Let’s talk hops with a profile of Sorachi Ace hops! We’ll talk about some of the uses for Sorachi Ace, some of the hop’s flavours, and a bit more.
Sorachi Ace was originally formulated in the 1970’s for Sapporo, and was only available to be used by them until 1984, when it became commercially available. However, it wasn’t available in the U.S. until about 2006. At this point, it started to become more widely popular, especially due to shortages of other hops. Since then, Sorachi Ace has come into its own and is appreciated for its unique flavours and hop profile. It’s really different from all the rest!
As the name and history would suggest, this hop originally comes from Japan and was mainly grown in Japan and China before becoming more available. It was originally developed in the Sorachi Subprefecture and was a combination of Brewer’s Gold and Saaz hops.
Sorachi Ace is a really interesting because it has the alpha acids to make it great at bittering, but some unique flavours and aromas that make it useful in other areas. Because of this, it can go well in single hopped beers.
That being said however, Sorachi Ace is not without its controversy! The hops’ unique dill characteristics are often seen as not appropriate for beer and can put many people off. It’s a fun hop to experiment with.
Sorachi Ace Hop Stats
Here’s the general stats on Sorachi Ace, if you just want to get down to it and brew:
- Alpha acids: 10-16% – it’s quite variable
- Aromas and flavours: dill, lemon grass, tea, and sometimes a bit of coriander
- Substitutions: not much! this one’s unique
- Common beer styles: IPA, Summer Ale, Saison, Wheat Beer
- Uses: Any, while its high alpha acids lend this hop to bittering, it’s unique flavours allow for other interesting uses.
Flavours in Sorachi Ace Hops
The big thing that a lot of people are going to get out of Sorachi Ace are the flavours and aroma of dill. It can be a little salty and pickly, which is strange in a beer, but used in small amounts, it can be interesting and refreshing. This, especially combined with its more citrus and lemon grass elements, make it a great hop for Summer Ales.
The more coriander and herbal elements of the hop make it a nice choice for Wheat Beers as well, as does the lemon grass taste and aroma of the hop.
As Sorachi Ace has a pretty high alpha acid, it’s also popular in IPAs to give beers a nice bitter kick. As mentioned, due to its unique flavour profile, it can go well for a single hop IPA.
Sorachi Ace has a great hop profile, so there’s so many different directions this one can go. Also, being relatively new to the scene (at least in the west), there’s still a lot of experimenting to do in order to see how this hop can really shine!
Beers with Sorachi Ace in Them
A lot of craft brewers have really been experimenting with this one, and they’re always proud to announce it when they use Sorachi Ace in their beer.
One such brewery is Brooklyn Brewery, who have a beer simply call Sorachi Ace. Their take on the hop is used in a Saison, creating a wonderful and refreshing beer. Luckily as well, this beer is available year round, which can be unusual in beers that so readily show off any hop.
Conversely, Mountain Goat created a Rare Breed called Japanese Cowboy. It’s no wonder where the name came from and it’s no mystery what hop is in the beer! Sorachi. As with most of Mountain Goat’s Rare Breeds, this was a fun beer, but it didn’t stick around for long.
In our home brewing, we like to use Sorachi Ace in our Pilsner recipe. Here we combine it with Mosaic in both flavour and aroma to get fruit and florals from the Mosaic, and the refreshment from the Sorachi Ace to make a pretty ace Pilsner.
Give it a go in a home brew recipe when you can.
What’s your favourite beer that showcases Sorachi Ace well?