Strawberry, peach and, basically, zero bitterness. That's what you get when you brew with your neighbor's unknown hop variety. Well, at least that's what I got. My Mystery Pale Ale is dark orange with a hint of red. It produces a respectable, foamy inch-high head and gives off a distinctly fruity aroma.
To me it clearly tastes of strawberries and utterly lacks the substantial bitterness a pale ale should have. I've shared it with folks who detect peach or stone fruit flavors. In other words, it would make a really nice summer refresher. Drink it cold and relish the ripe fruitiness of it all...if it were June. Alas, it's now late Fall and therefore not what I'm reaching for on a regular basis.
I described the flavor to my brewer friend Mark Thomas and in a second he said, “red vine.” At first I thought he was talking about the candy. As in, sounds like Red Vines. But then he went on to explain that red vine is a “common wild hop variety” that he thought matched my description. It produces flavors of fruity strawberry not unlike the better-known chewy red treat. This being the 21st century, he then “googled” the hop to confirm his hunch.
Formally known as Canadian Redvine this does appear to be the hop that ended up in my beer. (For the record, my panicky addition of a half ounce of stale Cascade had no discernible effect on the finished beer). According to what I could find on the hop it's got about 5% alpha acids, is high in cohumulone, has no pedigree, is “exceptionally vigorous,” which would explain my neighbor's overgrown front porch. Many brewers feel that high cohumulone is undesirable in beer, producing a harsh bitterness. But recent research may remove cohumulone's negative reputation by arguing that it was faulty testing that led to its undeserved bad rap....