I've been doing some hop reading and writing recently and so sources call particular hop varieties, mostly British, 'spicy', but I've never understood what that actually means...
It's not like chillis, it's not like festive spices, not Asian spices, so what is it?
I haven't found a good way of explaining it rather than the non-descript 'spicy'. I kind of get what it means as it's a tangy feeling - a sensation rather than a flavour - an earthy, peppery character, but I haven't got better than that.
Anyone got a better way of describing it or thinking about it? Or is spicy one of those words to put next to hoppy and malty on the list of beer terms which don't really mean anything?
When I say spicy in relation to hops, I mean earthy & peppery. Not chilli pepper, more like black pepper. I think you might be right about a sensation though.ReplyDelete
I think it means: "Hmm, there's a tingle in this, like a spice I can't quite put my finger on." That's meaning enough for me.ReplyDelete
(Don't quite buy that malty and hoppy are meaningless, either.)
I was thinking about this the other day. The only way I'd describe 'spicy' hops is the kind of 'prickly' feeling you get as a 'spicy' hopped beer goes down your throat. You know the one I mean? Well that.ReplyDelete
Peppery is the best description I could give it. Spiky, prickly, diametrically opposed to the mellow fruitiness of new world hops, in my opinion.ReplyDelete
I'd agree, very much a peppery spiciness rather than heat or something flavour changing if that makes sense. We know hops do help deliver big smells & flavours I'd their own if course. I'd also agree with Bailey, sometimes a beer delivers a flavour that's just, well, malty?ReplyDelete
Tis overused though so I know where you are coming from
Ok, so peppery seems to mean spicy, but for me it still doesn't cover it. What I associate with 'spicy' is more than just pepper. Perhaps I'm mixing up malt and hops and a middle ground between the two?ReplyDelete
Bailey - Every beer is malty and hoppy. It's like saying a fish tastes fishy. Perhaps not meaningless, but too unfocused to mean anything definite.
Nate - I know the one you mean, but how do you describe it!?
Hoppy and malty are overused and used carelessly, but if someone I trust tells me beer X is hoppy while beer Y us malty, I know what they mean. But, yes, beers described (i.e on their label) as both malty and hoppy might as well just be "beery".Delete
Mmmm, beery beer is my favourite beer...Delete
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It's insane how we have this common sensation/taste yet we don't actually have a way to describe it.
I think I need to buy a prickly hopped beer now, just for further research
I think they'd fall mostly in resinous and herbage (which I'd call herbal and include other descriptors)on the beer aroama wheel:ReplyDelete
Recent studies show how our brain "fools" us into perceiving things in the mouth we actually only smell. That's why you might say something smells "bitter" even though that's a sensation that occurs on the tongue. Once you a learn a taste is connected to a particular aroma you anticipate that taste.
There's one hop note I get a lot, that could be in this category; it's a dry, hot, black pepper-type thing. Dry heat, rather than the fruity heat that, say, a chilli can provide. Acrid, almost. But in small doses.ReplyDelete
Ps: 'Malty' and 'Hoppy' are fine; if your audience have only those as a reference point. You choose your descriptors to who you are speaking to; that was the big mistake the likes of Jilly Goolden made in the early 90's and ended up having the piss taken out of her. As you were!
I would go with something along the lines of what Stan just said, I think when reviewers talk about "spiciness" it is similar to the flavours associated with spice (in cooking) as opposed to the flavours associated with herbs which in the beer world are the hops - best description I can give without simply relating to beer flavours.ReplyDelete
It interests me where the spiciness comes from, I presume the hops?
It's like a tangy, slightly earthy, peppery note. I get it a fair amount from saaz and goldings and other UK/European hops. But describing it as a feeling or a sensation is quite a good description IMHO.ReplyDelete
I liken it to Nasturtium petals, watercress/rocket/aragula and of course that peppery note. It's almost a peppery plant sap type of thing for me... KellyReplyDelete