Sierra Nevada Harvest: Wild Hop IPA – NeoMexicanus Hops

Sierra Nevada Harvest: NeoMexicanus Wild Hop IPA

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Beer Classification and Specs

  • Style: IPA
  • Variation: American, Single Hop
  • Limited: Dec – Jan
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • IBU: 55

Notes: Fifth of five in 2014 “Harvest Series.”

Brewer’s Notes and Ingedients

A few years back, we caught wind of rogue hop heads in the Southwest who began collecting some of the wild hops they found while scrambling down hillsides near their home in New Mexico. These bizarre, multi-headed, native U.S. cones have a flavor like nothing we’ve tasted, and for the first time, we’re showcasing their unusual melon, apricot and citrus aromas and flavors in our beer.

Hops: NeoMexicanus

Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramel

Additional: Ale Yeast

More Wild Hop IPA – NeoMexicanus Hops Images

First Impressions

Artwork: Follows the new Sierra Nevada Harvest Series label template, with dark teal background.

Color: Color.

Aroma: Citrus, prominently orange, with slight hint of melon.

The Tasting

Arrived in: 24 oz. Bottle

Served in: Official Sierra Nevada IPA glasses

Welcome to our final installment of the Sierra Nevada Harvest series, Wild Hop IPA – Neomexicanus Varietal. Let’s see if this experimental native hop can topple Northern Hemisphere Wet Hop, to be crowned the best of the 2014 Harvest series.

Besides wet and fresh hopped IPAs, Sierra Harvest series has also featured three emerging hop strains. Yakima 291, the first of two proprietary hops, followed by the increasingly popular Equinox, and lastly the all new Neomexicanus varietal:

Neomexicanus hops are a wild, native species that grow in the harsh, dry mountains of the American West. They thrive at high elevations ranging from the Mexican border all the way north into Montana. These new hops are not just a hot varietal, but an all new species of Humulus lupulus, the hops we all know and love.

Taos, New Mexico native Todd Bates began collecting different species of the multi-headed Neomexicanus, then crossbred the plants. Todd then convinced Eric Desmarais of CLS Farms in Yakima, WA to grow the hop on a larger scale. You can learn more about the hop here.

That’s enough science and history — let’s get to the beer!

All the previous Harvest IPAs poured an extremely volatile, cream colored head. Neomexicanus was more calm and subdued, with a pure white cap several fingers thick.

Although the head didn’t violently erupt, Wild Hop IPA – Neomexicanus Hops was quite effervescent in the glass. You could see a race of pin-sized bubbles through its semi-opaque, golden to orange hue, which made for a very crisp, and airy mouthfeel.

This was a light and bright India Pale Ale. Neomexicanus’ slender malt backbone allowed its medley of fruit flavors to dominate your palate. Sierra’s official tasting notes mentioned melon and apricot, but we found Neomexicanus to be more citrusy than they advertised.

Not to say there wasn’t a hint of melon and peach to start, but we felt citrus was more prominent throughout. Intense bitter citrus, with grapefruit and tangerine. After the initial tease of mellow fruit, tangerine followed, with biting grapefruit in the finish.

It was amazing how much bitter citrus Sierra Nevada was able to pack into this IPA, with only a single hop. Maybe a better wording, was what they were able to get out of it. Yes, IPAs can be grapefruity, but not dialed up as much as Neomexicanus was.

Its citrus characteristics were not only intense, but so unique — which was what we liked best about this ale. Sara enjoyed the potency of bitter grapefruit, where Mike’s favorite aspect was the tangerine sweetness before that bitter finish.

After trying all five entries in the series, this wild, multi-headed beast of a hop was the best of the Harvest Series 2014:

  1. Wild Hop IPA – Neomexicanus Hops
  2. Wet Hop IPA – Northern Hemisphere
  3. Single Hop IPA – Equinox Hops
  4. Fresh Hop IPA – Southern Hemisphere Harvest
  5. Single Hop IPA – Yakima 291
Final Score: 4.5/5

Stars

Sierra Nevada Harvest: Single Hop IPA – Neomexicanus Varietal represented something new and different in the fast growing crowd of India Pale Ales. Its cheerful blend of citrus was something we had never experienced before, and look forward to the 2015 vintage.

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