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Let's Talk Topaz

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Our guest blogger Bobby Bendily is the newest addition to the Bitter & Esters crew. He hails from the great state of Louisiana and has been brewing heartily for the past three years. He likes to keep his mash temp low. TopazSo you come into the shop and begin putting together the recipe for that seasonally appropriate amber or a nice rich porter and you get to that inevitable point we all eventually reach. You open the cooler to grab those reliable old East Kent Goldings and you see the myriad of hops with the cool names you've never used before and you ask yourself "Why am I not brewing an I.P.A.?" They have names like Summer, Glacier, Phoenix, Admiral, and Vanguard. The descriptions read something fairly mundane like "Fruity" or "Unique." Not enough to tell you anything that might sate your curiosity, just enough to fuel your imagination to begin usurping your current plans for that highly drinkable English Mild. You could very rightly say this is obsessive behavior yet here you are reading a beer blog so welcome to the club friend; see you at the meetings. I recently had this very same problem. You see, I reach into that cooler several times a day, and the hop whose siren song has been calling to me for the past couple weeks is Topaz. Hailing from the land down under, whose main export is iron ore and actors who play comic book characters, this dual purpose hop is an alluring choice for a 7-8% percent I.P.A.. The flavor it imparts fits the ever popular "Fruity" description in earnest, but it comes off more subtly as berry-like on the palate (specifically blueberry). I'm told it comes off as resinous when used aggressively as a dry hop, but I found Topaz's aroma to be almost tropical, with notes of lychee (but in a more subtle way than say Nelson Sauvin). To be sure, Topaz ranks highly amongst the high alpha dual-purpose hops from Australia and New Zealand which brewers can't wait to use like Galaxy and Motueka, but if I had to suggest a way to use it, I would play to its more subtle nature. Using Topaz as a late addition or dry hop as a supporting character to a more standout hop like Galaxy, Mosaic or even something piney and dank like Chinook may be the way to get the most out of it. Whichever purpose you end up using it for, I just hope you end up bringing it to the beer swap because I am really into this hop. Bobby Bendily Bobby Bendily


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