The Tasman Bay Pale

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard

Whole hops on the vine.

First off…Its been way over a month since the last complete update. That I regret. This site is something I love to write and spend time on but the lull in writing can be attributed to family, job, and just basically, lack of anything worth talking about brew-wise…to a point. However my apologies, I’m sure you understand.

Since 1/6/12 I have only had one brew session in which I used New Zealand hops exclusively, but so far it has not had the same “pop” that the citra pale ale had. Partly, all that’s available this time of year are pellet hops. I was able to have a taste of the brew last week and it’s definitely hoppy but again its missing that wonderful aroma that NZ grown hops are known for and this I believe is where whole hops, (raw hops,flower hops, fresh hops or whatever you want to call them) tend to excel.

  • Pellet compared to whole hops

I have had a few pellet versus whole hop discussions with some of my brew colleagues. So it’s up for discussion with any brewer that likes a good argument! I prefer whole hops in terms of flavor and aroma. I believe pellets are good in the boil as a bitter addition but lack the fresh flavor and aroma due to the heavy processing. That is not to say that you can’t get aroma or flavor from smart use of the pellet form, but ask your self this question: which gives off better aroma in your hands: pellets or whole hops?

I’m sure everyone has seen the Sam Adams commercial where Jim Koch takes a handful of whole hops, rubs them together in his hands, leans back and takes a big whiff! There is a reason commercial brewers use whole hops exclusively (Sierra Nevada ), the aroma is just phenomenal.  When hop producers press the hops into pellets, the aromatic lupilin glands are compromised. To release the best aroma from whole hops you simply rub them in your hands, exactly the same way Jim Koch does in the commercial. Consider all of the lost lupiln when the hops are run through the pellet pressing machine. Anyone who grows their own hops (me) will tell you that hops smell best (and freshest) right off of the vine.

The downside to whole hops are poor storage-ability. The fact that pellets are compressed, makes them less susceptible to oxygen and also less likely to stale. My rule (opinion) is when possible, use whole hops for flavor and aroma. The beer just seems  to “come alive” when unprocessed hops are used and has a fresh hop taste that cannot be matched in any other way.


  • Cold temps 

When I tried the first sample from the fermenter, it was at 36 F and it lacked the hoppy flavor and aroma I was looking for. Being at a cold temp can definitely affect any aroma that would and did show up in the sample, as there was not much to speak of at the time. Some beers just taste better and release more flavor and aroma when warmed up.  I’ve also read that dry hop additions at colder temps will release  aroma and flavor at a much more slower pace as opposed to room temp dry hopping. Not sure why this is, but I can attest that in the past I have dry hopped at ale temps (mid to high 60’s F), and had excellent results.

Fast forward 2 weeks later. The hop profile is better now after sitting on the pellet hops for an extended period. The fruitiness of the New Zealand hops have really made this brew more complex and their different subtleties round out the finish. With a little carbonation this one is great and probably wont last. It does have a familiar West Coast U.S. hop flavor but takes a small twist in the finish that is very different. It is very drinkable and retains a lacing in the glass until the last drop is gone. I was able to score these hops on and on a side note is a great homebrew shop and ship really fast. Enjoy and cheers!

Tasman Bay Pale 

Style: American/New Zealand Pale Ale



Batch Size: 6.50 gal     

Boil Size: 8.30 gal

Estimated OG: 1.058 SG

Estimated Color: 6.9 SRM

Estimated IBU: 32.9 IBU

Brewhouse Efficiency: 81.00 %

Boil Time: 60 Minutes




12 lbs        Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess) (1.8 SRM)     Grain        92.31 %      

8.0 oz        Special Roast (50.0 SRM)                  Grain        3.85 %       

8.0 oz        Victory Malt (biscuit) (Briess) (28.0 SRM)Grain        3.85 %       

0.50 oz       PACIFIC GEM [15.40 %]  (Dry Hop 3 days)   Hops          –           

0.50 ozRakau [11.40 %]  (Dry Hop 3 days)         Hops          –           

0.55 oz       Warrior [13.70 %]  (60 min)               Hops         20.8 IBU     

0.15 oz       PACIFIC GEM [15.40 %]  (60 min)           Hops         6.4 IBU      

0.30 oz       PACIFIC GEM [15.40 %]  (5 min)            Hops         2.5 IBU      

0.50 ozRakau [11.40 %]  (5 min)                  Hops         3.1 IBU      

1 tube        WLP001 Calif Ale (White Labs)             Yeast-Ale    w/Starter             

 Total Grain Weight: 13.00 lb



The 5 minute additions should be added in the LAST 5 minutes continually until the end of the boil


Tasman Bay. Delicious!


4 responses to “The Tasman Bay Pale

  1. I use pellet hops. They’re easier to handle all around. Sierra Nevada grows its own hops on their property. I’ve ordered some rhizomes, so I can try that too. Since, hops vary in alpha acid depending on conditions, they must send out samples for testing to keep consistency in their ales. I won’t be able to afford any testing, it’ll be tasting only.

    • Pellet are easier to handle,weigh and store for sure. I agree, homegrown hops alpha acids will vary. However you can get a “feel” for what the bittering strength is by trial and error methods. However unless you have an abundence of time,supplies and patience you’d be better off using you freshly grown hops for aroma and flavor purposes.

      Sierra Nevada knows that growing and using whole hops are superior for flavor and aroma which is why they decided to venture out in that direction. Hence the “estate” series of brews they release every year. That is also the reason I and many other homebrewers started growing hops also. Unfortunatly my plants do not yield enough to “save” some money on hops, I buy in bulk for that.

  2. Good to know about the when to use the fresh hops. Are you strictly a homebrewer or have you plunged into the professional side? A few guys in our Lake County homebrew club have taken that step.

    I’ve got to get over to Chico since it’s only about three hours away. But, (here I equivocate) so is the Bay Area and Triple Rock Brewing in Berkeley (and I’m doing research at the Bancroft Library) so it’s tough to talk myself into a trek like Chico just for a beer. Damn opportunity costs!

    • Nope. Strictly a homebrewer for now. I did start writing a business plan for a brew pub, but funding is going to be an issue with startup so its on the back burner for a while. However its still something I want to do.

      Unfortunately I am no where near Chico , but I am 2 1/2 hours from Ashville,NC so maybe when the build their new place I’ll be able to go. I am looking forward to having fresh SN products locally though! Pretty soon I be able to taste SN fresher than usual. Can’t wait!

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