Happy Friday Zappa Hop Taste Test
Every Friday at Titans after our AQ staff meeting we have a Happy Friday tasting. It’s partly for quality assurance, partly for staff education, and partly (mostly!) to celebrate Friday and the end of another hard-worked week. This week we decided to taste Humle Norde Zappa from Mikkeller San Diego, so we could all get an education on the Zappa hop, a fairly new hop cross-bred from wild hops found in the state of New Mexico. I explained to the team that the hop is named after Frank Zappa, a legendary and unbelievably eclectic (and eccentric and psychedelic!!) American musician. To get in the mood we put the Frank Zappa mix on the Titans’ stereo. I told them to be prepared, he plays a very, very wide range of music. So while Frank’s songs changed musical genres like a chameleon changes colors, we cracked open cans of Humle Norde Zappa and took a sniff. Whoa!!! Holy shit, what is this? The variety of aromas was incredible. Dank. Fruity. Spicy. Herbal. Floral. Savory. Earthy. All at the same time!!! It was as if someone had mixed Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic, Sabro, and Sorachi Ace all in one hop!! Each time we sniffed we found a new aroma; each time we sipped we found a new flavor. This was the most kaleidoscopic hop we had ever experienced. As we did the tasting the songs kept changing, and each time someone would ask, “Is this Frank Zappa, too?!!” I smiled and said, yes, I told you! From rock to country to fusion to pop to avante-garde to psychedelic to modern classical to symphonies in a short span of time, it was all Frank Zappa. And that’s how we came to understand exactly why they named the hop Zappa!! The incredible blend of musical genres was matched by the incredible blend of aromas and flavors. Mikkeller San Diego makes a Humle Norde Galaxy version, so we opened one for comparison. Normally Galaxy beers are very aromatic, but when we sniffed we all started laughing. It smells like regular hoppy beer!!! After Zappa the Galaxy was so simple in comparison it made us shake our heads and smile. Once we re-calibrated our nose pallets we again found the peach and citrus and passion fruit galaxy is known for, but it took a while. The Zappa had taken us for such a wild ride it took us a while to come back to earth! What a great experience, and what a great education in music and hops.I highly recommend finding a Humle Norde Zappa or other Zappa beer, put some Frank Zappa on the stereo, and buckle up your seat belt!!!!