Monday, April 12, 2010

Terminal Gravity Single-Hop Horizontal

A few weeks ago at the Cheese Bar I got to try Terminal Gravity's single-hopped double IPA (Chinook). It seemed obvious from the parenthesized name that there must be other varieties out there, but it's a pretty stealthy project: I hadn't heard any publicity about it before noticing it that evening, and had no idea what other hops they had experimented with.

So hats off to Belmont Station for offering a horizontal tasting of three versions of TG single-hopped brews. Thursday night Lindsey and I dropped in for a quick flight. Here are my impressions:
  • Chinook: most stereotypically "hoppy": resinous, orangey hops
  • Columbus: mildest up front, but with a long aspirin finish (in a good way)
  • Centennial: mildest overall, light citrus hop flavor
The underlying beer was a big, malty ale that clocked in at 6.8% -- think big Rogue ales and you'll have the idea.  A taster of Terminal Gravity's regular IPA was thrown into the flight, which was kind of a mistake -- it didn't stand up well against the heavier double IPA, even though it's a fine beer in its own right.  Scanning the internet for more information about the project, I notice that Bailey's Taproom served the same three single-hopped varieties at various times during February and March.  Anyone know if there are other hop varieties in the series?

By the way, uber-geeky Danish brewer Mikkeller has done a single-hopped IPA series with at least 10 different hop varieties.  Derek at Beer Around Town recently tasted a couple of them: one with East Kent Goldings, another with Tomahawk hops, which he says are the same as Columbus.  Interestingly, Tomahawk had the same effect in the Mikkeller as Columbus did in the Terminal Gravity, with the malt dominating at first, but a "sharp dry bitterness in the finish".  I'm glad Derek wrote about that, I had been pondering a similar experiment, but haven't tried any of the Mikkeller IPAs. has more information on the Mikkeller single-hop series.

If you see the Terminal Gravity single-hop brews on tap, they're definitely worth a try, especially the Chinook and Columbus flavors.


  1. Finally doing some sensory perception tastings, Bill? Learning to identify the difference in hop flavors and aromas. Good for you! That might help with some of your beer descriptions. ;-}

  2. Uh, thanks, I guess. I didn't think I broke any ground here, just tried some new beers and described them briefly.

  3. Yea.... well, it's a start. :-)

  4. Block 15 in Corvallis has been brewing beers in their "One Hop Wonder" series for a while now but they never seem to last long.

  5. Good call, dabudah. Have you had any of the One Hop Wonders? Care to comment on how they differ from one another?

  6. Good lookin' beers. I regret to have missed it--I love single-hopped beers. (I have a single, Nugget-hopped pale that I bottled Monday.) Boundary Bay has also done something similar, though they were releasing theirs each year.

  7. Block 15 has done a bunch so far. I have only had a chance to try Columbus, Saaz and Sorachi Ace. The Sorachi Ace hops gave a flavor similar to Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA.

    Laurelwood has done a series of single hop reds, including Challenger, Crystal, Liberty, Centennial, Tomahwak, Ahtanum and Saaz).

    Lucky Lab's single hop IPAs have included Ahtanum, Amarillo, Brewers Gold, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Fuggles, Nugget, Simcoe, Styrian Goldings and Summit).

    Big Horse in Hood River has a series called Hop Slop Single Hop Extra Pale Ale. I've only had #3 (Glacier).

    Other NW brewers doing single hop include The Harmon and Port Townsend.

    Bison has had bottle single hop IPAs (Amarillo, Columbus, Simcoe, Summit and Willamette) available around town.

    Many brewers outside of the NW have done this too, most notably Sly Fox in Pennsylvania which does 12 different single hop IPAs each year (one per month) and has an event in December where they pour all 12, plus an Imperial IPA made with those 12, plus their regular IPA for comparison. They market this as the single largest collection of IPAs from one brewery on tap at one time in the world. I have asked one of the Lucky Lab brewers about possibly challenging this claim with their own event, but was dismissed because he felt that the a 12 month old single hop IPA would have lost too much character.

    If this is the first time you have seen single hop beers, you are not paying attention.

  8. hopmonster: Maybe you should have written this article! Thanks for the details.

    I was dimly aware of the Laurelwood series, but haven't tried any. I've been having whichever of the Lucky Lab ones make it to Hawthorne (I recall Centennial, Simcoe, and very recently Summit), but I didn't think of them as a series -- do they all use the same base recipe?

    What caught my attention with TG and Mikkeller was that they were obviously intended for horizontal tasting. I'll look out for the Bison bottles, that might be a fun project.