Brewing with South African Hops

I have been living the U.K. for almost 12 years now, and thoroughly enjoy life as a Brit. I was originally born in South Africa, and as you can imagine, I still have a close association with all things South African.

Here in the U.K, we are very lucky to have access to amazing hops from all over the world. European grown hops are easily obtained, U.S. hops are widely available in almost all online stores, and we grow our own fantastic varieties too!

Whilst there are many New World Hops (Australia & New Zealand) available online too, South African hops have been a little harder to come by. In fact, some of these hops are so rare that many don't even have full names yet and are still listed as experimental. With that said, I have noticed a few online stores that now stock them.

With this in mind, I wanted to brew an IPA that took advantage of these great hops from my home country and allowed me to learn more about them at the same time. In this recipe, I use African Queen and Southern Passion - two hops that provide a unique flavour and aroma.

The Recipe (BIAB)

The recipe below is for the all-grain Brew in a Bag method, but it can be scaled to suit your needs depending on your setup.

Batch Size: 5 gal
ABV: 5%
Boil Time: 60 mins
OG: 1.051
FG: 1.012

Malt Bill

Name Amount
Pale Ale Malt (Crisp) 4 Kg
Golden Naked Oats (Simpsons) 500 g
Caragold (Crisp) 500 g
Acidulated Malt (Optional) 300 g

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form
CO2 Hop Extract 4 ml 60 mins Boil CO2 Hop Extract
African Queen 20 g Hopstand (Flameout) Dry Hop Pellet
Southern Passion 20 g Hopstand (Flameout) Dry Hop Pellet

Water Additions

Name Amount
Calcium Chloride 4g

Dry Hop

Name Amount Time Use Form
African Queen 80 g 5 days before Dry Hop Pellet
Southern Passion 80 g 5 days before Dry Hop Pellet

Yeast

Name Lab Temperature
BRY-97 Lallemand Danstar 21 Celsius

Let's get brewing

The night before I was due to brew, I measured out my water and filtered it to remove any chlorine, chloramine and other impurities. As always, my chores before a brew day also involve cleaning and sanitising as much as I'm going to need.

For this brew, I wanted to aim for a rounded, smoother mouthfeel. I didn't want to shoot for NEIPA levels of mouthfeel, but with the Golden Naked Oats and the CaCl2 combined, I was hoping to get a softness that made this beer an easy drinker. I then adjusted my strike water with a small amount of Calcium Chloride (CaCl2).

Calcium Chloride

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that this recipe contains Acidulated Malt. My water is quite alkaline and I normally add Acidulated Malt to drop the ph into acceptable levels.

The following afternoon I set my water on the burner and aimed for a strike temperature of 65 C and added the grains to my brew bag.

South African IPA - Mashing in

I also really wanted this beer to have a clean bitterness. Lately I’ve been experimenting with CO2 hop extract to achieve bitterness in my beers and have been surprised with the results.

CO2 Hop Extract - Homebrew

If you’ve not heard of CO2 extract before, it is produced from soft hop pellets by supercritical CO2 extraction. If you'd like to learn more about CO2 Hop extract, I've previously written about it on this blog. I added around 4 ml of CO2 extract at the start of the boil.

After the 60 minutes of boil time was complete, I cooled the wort to around 24 degrees and pitched the yeast.

Flameout - Hopstand

To keep things nice and simple, I went with a dry yeast called BRY-97 from Lallemand.

BRY-97 West Coast Ale Yeast

Before racking to my fermenting bucket, I wanted to take a reading of the original gravity (OG). I came in at just over 1.051.

The waiting game

With the airlock bubbling away, I patiently waited for my brew to be ready. With about 5 days to go until kegging, I dry hopped with around 80 grams of African Queen and 80 grams of Southern Passion in a hop sock.

South African Hops

South African Hop Pellets

When fermentation was complete, I cold crashed the beer overnight and then transferred to a keg and pressurised to 20 PSI before waiting another 5 days before tasting.

Summary

What can I say.....this beer is delicious!

South African Hops IPA

The first aroma to hit you from the glass is a subtle hint of strawberries. The taste itself is hard to truly narrow down - At first you get a hint of berries and then you are left with a lingering tang of pineapple. All in all, this is a delicious beer and truly quaffable! I couldn't be more pleased.

Note: Whilst the Alpha Acids (11.2%) on these hops were quite high, it's worth noting that I didn't taste or smell the same level of fruitiness as some of the American equivalent hops (Azacca, Idaho-7, Citra). I dry hopped with a decent amount of hops, but it was definitely subdued and not as strong as I was expecting.

If you are looking to buy South African hops in the UK, the Homebrew Shop sells them and I have also noticed Brouwland sells them for mainland Europe. In the U.S. they are available via Northern Brewer.

If you'd like to view a more in-depth version of this recipe, please check out the version that I created using the BrewFather app.

I hope you enjoy - please let me know your experience with South African Hops!