CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last year, Samuel Adams released a new IPA called Latitude 48 IPA, the name denoting that the five distinct varieties of hops used in the recipe were all grown somewhere near the 48th parallel. The beer remains a complex, hoppy concoction that I enjoy every time I drink it.
This season, the brewers at Samuel Adams have become somewhat instructional, wanting to further educate their beer-drinking customers with the recent release of The Latitude 48 Deconstructed Variety Pack.
This 12-pack (available now locally) contains single-hopped versions of the same IPA base beer, allowing the drinker to achieve an understanding of the particular flavor and aromas of the particular hop variety used in that bottle. Each bottle is marked with the hop variety along with origin and expected characteristics.
This proves to me that Boston Beer Co. respects the craft-beer drinker. This also shows a confidence that no matter what single hop is used, the beer is still pretty darn good. I know of only one other brewery that brewed a series of single-hopped beers: a Danish craft brewer called Mikkeller -- and those beers are hard to find and expensive when you do. This is not so for the Deconstructed Variety Pack, which generally sells for less than $15.
Here is rundown of the five varieties of hop leaves used in Latitude 48 IPA:
Latitude 48 HallertauMittelfrueh IPA: HallertauMittelfrueh hops (Hallertau, Germany) create soft bitterness along with delicate lemony citrus and resinous pine notes, balanced by a slight sweetness and full body from the malt blend.
Latitude 48 East Kent Goldings IPA: East Kent Goldings (East Kent, U.K.) add a mellow bitterness with earthy, floral and apricot notes, offset by a slight sweetness and full body.
Latitude 48 Ahtanum IPA: Ahtanum hops (Yakima Valley, Wash.) contribute a very balanced and typically "American" orange peel, piney and floral flavor and aroma to this brew, tempered by a slight sweetness and full body.
Latitude 48 Simcoe IPA: Simcoe hops (Yakima Valley, Wash.) add bitterness and dramatic grapefruit peel and pine resin notes, with the slight sweetness and full malt body to round out the concentrated hop character.
Latitude 48 Zeus IPA: Zeus hops (Yakima Valley, Wash.) contribute bitterness and an intense, pungent resinous pine flavor. The balance of the brew leans strongly toward the hop character, but is softened by the malt sweetness and body.
For more on the craft of beer, see Rich Ireland's "Beers to You" blog at thegazz.com.