Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mosaic Single Hop IPA - Recipe and Tasting Notes

Mosaic Single Hop IPA

Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: American IPA
Brewed: 5.20.2013

Bottled On: 6.8.2013
ABV: 7.1%

Appearance: amber gold, ample head, good retention, slight haze
Smell: tropical fruit, peach, melon, general berry, very mild herbal character
tropical fruit, peach, berry, mild grapefruit citrus, melon, soft bitterness
Mouthfeel: medium carbonation, light bodied, slightly creamy, dry finish

If you were paying attention to the fast-moving world of hops last year, you probably started to hear some buzz about  an experimental variety called HBC 369. Early buzz was good, and with people describing an interesting 'blueberry' character that the hop supposedly gave off, it seemed destined to be one of the next hits. Experimental hop varieties come and go, and few earn the right to even have a name, but every now and then one seems poised to redefine the character of hops. Is HBC 369 — now named Mosaic — the next Cascade / Simcoe / Citra?

Well, for one thing, the name is aptly chosen: Mosaic is a very difficult hop to describe, offering a real menagerie of flavors. But regardless of its many nuances, Mosaic adds up to one major fruit-bomb. Apparently descended from Simcoe and a "Nugget-derived male", here are a few ways I have thought to describe Mosaic while drinking my single-hop IPA: 

1. Like Citra, minus the dank character that Citra seems to have lately.
2. Like Galaxy, but with a more complex fruitiness and hints of berry.
3. Like Galaxy + Simcoe + Nelson Sauvin, maybe?

The Simcoe heritage surprised me at first, as I find Mosaic to be much more nakedly fruity than either of its parents, and almost completely lacking in anything like pine or herbal qualities. Then again, I find Mosaic and Simcoe both among the hardest hops to describe — and the more I drink, the more I think I can pinpoint where their similarities come in. I suspect both have a bit of a chameleon nature, their character changing slightly for every different beer they touch.

What I don't get from Mosaic, however, is that intriguing, teasing "blueberry" note that's been repeated in so many descriptions. The blueberry descriptor has interested me for a while, and I was sort of hoping Mosaic would prove to be like Belma, in which Conan yeast blasted one note of the hop (strawberry, in that instance) all the way to the front, like a fruit-hop-flavor tuning knob. I used Conan here too, but no dice. Conan pushes fruit character to the forefront, sure, but nothing very specific. Of the dozen or so people that have tried this beer, only one person has claimed to pick up on a blueberry nuance, and then only after asking about it specifically. However, I do get a very general berry character similar to what I've picked up from Simcoe and Columbus hops, when they're used for a soft, cleanly-bitter, flavor-focused hoppiness. It's a character I love, a sort of sweet berry medley smoothie. While subtle, I'm happy to find it here, mingled with a more balls-out tropical fruitiness like that of Citra and Galaxy — undertones of guava, mango, and other ripe fruit flavors that I simply can't describe.

So I think the best way to describe Mosaic is this: Galaxy (tropical boom) plus Nelson Sauvin (deep and nuanced berry character witih tangy tropical grapefruit mixed in). Or you could just hold it up on its own as another unique fruity hop, ripe for incorporation in so many beers. I am far from the first person to suggest that Mosaic will be the Hot New Hop of 2013, so I will merely jump on that bandwagon and affirm my belief that Mosaic is the Hot New Hop of 2013. This hop is a lot of fun, and I'm really enjoying the flavor and complexity of this beer, though I've heard from other homebrewers that they wouldn't want Mosaic on its own in a hop-forward beer — that it's too fruity to stand on its own.

Like most things in brewing, how you use Mosaic should come down to your personal preferences. In this case, how much of a balanced hoppy character do you want in your beer? There are commercial beers like 3 Floyd's Zombie Dust and Gumballhead, Kern River Citra, Peekskill Amazeballs, and more, all featuring fruit-bomb hops, and all that work very well and have been very highly rated across the board. I don't see why Mosaic should be any different. On the other hand, it's not quite like Centennial, which can hold up a well-loved IPA like Bell's Two Hearted and taste like a rounded, balanced hop-blend all on its own.

4.25 Gal., All Grain
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Mashed at 148 F for 65 minutes
Fermented at 66 degrees F
OG: 1.064
FG: 1.010

81% 2-row malt
10.1% white wheat malt
5.1% Munich
3.8% Cara-Pils

Hop Schedule-
5 ml Mosaic @FWH
1 oz Hop Shot @60 min
0.5 oz Mosaic @5 min
3 oz Mosaic@0 + hop stand 25 min
3 oz Mosaic dry hop for 4 days

The Alchemist - Conan


  1. Great writeup! I also failed to get the advertised blueberry note in a Mosaic APA I did earlier this year. I can corroborate - some folks who tried the batch weren't keen on Mosaic as a stand-alone hop. I do think it would blend well, but I personally liked it as a spotlight flavor.

    1. Thanks! Glad I'm not the only one missing the blueberry. I think it comes to the fact that other big fruity hops usually have some other character (dank or piney or funky) balancing them too, whereas Mosaic seems to be full-on fruit. Okay with me, but of course not for everyone.

  2. I really enjoyed mine and as a non-hop experiment I thought it worked pretty nicely as a single hop.
    Also one more vote for no "blueberry" flavor.

    1. I really think hop descriptions start with some famous brewer or industry figure taking a whiff of an experimental variety at the farm, everyone writing down notes of the adjectives he tosses off, and then that just gets repeated over and over. At least until there are so many people tasting it that a general consensus can be formed.

  3. I've had two mosiac-forward beers. One had a huge blueberry note (pale ale from Hops & Grain in Austin) and one had very little berry character at all (an IPA from Community Beer in Dallas). No idea why there was a difference.

    1. Interesting! Well, in that case I'm still looking forward to trying one with some blueberry character one of these days. Maybe it just comes down to different crops.

  4. I get blueberry for sure...and a bit of strawberry, also. I keep trying different beers with Mosaic hoping that I'll find one that I really like (because for some reason I really want to like this hop), but I'm coming to the conclusion that it just isn't for least not without some piney, grapefruity hop flavor to balance out its fruity sweetness. It's unfortunate because I still have about half a corny of a homebrew DIPA that's 1/3 citra, 1/3 Nelson, and 1/3 mosaic, and I'm having trouble finishing it. The mosaic seems to drown out all of the other hops.

    1. Yeah, I can see how it's not for everyone. Do you like Citra and Nelson on their own? Both of those hops are so potent, I'm surprised Mosaic would be able to overpower them. But I think Mosaic has some overlapping flavors with them too, so maybe it's just accentuating the common characters.

  5. I had brewed a Mosaic single IPA with Conan a few months ago, and rather strongly disliked it. I kind of wrote it off, but after having a few commercial offerings with Mosaic, I decided to give it another shot. I'm now nearly ready to keg an American Wheat with about a 2:1 (by AAU) ratio of Cascade to Mosaic, then a hearty dry hop. I'm a little apprehensive, but hoping I'll like the combo.

    1. What didn't you like about it? Did you enjoy the commercial beers with Mosaic that you had?

  6. Hey - like your blog, only just discovered it yesterday. I had a single hop Mosaic DIPA from Parallel 49 in Vancouver called Hopnotist. It remains one of the best IPAs I've ever had. The flavour was so well rounded and absorbing. I had a go myself a few weeks ago but sadly the damn thing got infected and it's a total write-off. Going to try again this weekend - wish me luck!

    1. Thanks! That sounds tragic, especially losing a batch with an ingredient as rare as Mosaic. Hopefully they've got it sorted out.

      I have a friend with family in Vancouver, who just spent the last week there. We were talking about the brewing scene in the area (and the hypothetical merits of opening a brewery on his family farm), so I'll have to ask him if he's familiar with Parallel 49.

  7. Derek,

    I just got some whole leaf Mosaic and want to try your recipe. I was going to use US-05 to ferment this. I was wondering if you having any changes you would make? Any malt bill changes or hopping schedule? I'll bitter with either warrior or magnum.

    1. Not really, I guess. I think there's some flexibility with the malt — I have a pretty basic goal with my IPA grain bills that holds up to tweaking, and I'm still turning the knobs a bit to get it exactly where I want it. Around 10% wheat gets the body and slight creaminess I want, and I'll go back and forth between something like Munich and Caramalt or Carahell for the 5%. I think they can all work for just adding a bit of depth.

      But yeah, for a Mosaic single-hop, I'd say the most important thing is just using a healthy dose of Mosaic and giving it the opportunity to shine!

    2. Thanks Derek...looking forward to brewing this. I'll let you know how it turns out. What brought me to wanting to do an all Mosaic beer was Blue Point Brewing Company's Mosaic Session IPA. My wife and I had it at our local watering hole a couple weeks back and really enjoyed it. I know that beer has Simcoe and Centennial in it but I just want to try Mosaic on it's own and see if that flavor we liked is from the Mosaic. There was a pronounced fruitiness to it along with the pine and/or citrus.
      Your blog is great and good luck on your year of eating fermented food!

    3. Thank you kindly! Please do let me know how it turns out. I love hearing other's impressions of new hops, they're so hard to pin down exactly.

      I agree, Blue Point's Mosaic beer is quite tasty. I think it may be my favorite of their brews, and I'm hoping they're able to produce quite a bit more of it in the future. Mosaic sure adds a ton of fruitiness — I find Centennial to be a bit more on the "orange / citrus" spectrum, so I bet, if there was some other indistinct fruitiness you were picking out, it probably was from Mosaic.

      Good luck!

  8. A friend of mine here in Norway recently brewed a single hop Mosaic. Now, I'm a fan of Hops but not the overly hopped brews which are more akin to an alcoholic hop tea. This one, he informed me had a tonne of hops. I have to say, as soon as it was pored, Blueberry's hit me from 2 feet away. The same smell as putting your nose over a pan of simmering Blueberry's and it was there in taste too. That's no exaggeration. What's more, although heavily hopped, there was only a light hint of bitterness and a late taste of malt which I enjoy. It all seemed to fit together well. I'll grab the recipe from him and post it here if anyone's interested.

    1. Sounds excellent Taff! I still haven't been able to pinpoint in any Mosaic beers... I wonder how much different harvests or farms may vary. Looking forward to brewing with it again though, maybe it'll pop up for me at some point.

  9. Derek,

    I have yet to brew has happened as it does. But I'm planning out my brew day and was wondering how you measure your batch. Is it 4.25 gallons into the fermentor or bottled? Just want to be able to enter this into Beersmith and come out with the right numbers.

  10. Hey Steven, with these recipes I'm aiming for 4.25 gallons (or whatever the volume mentioned is) in the fermentor. Not sure if that's the best method or not... I've started to work a lot harder at systematizing my batch sizes!

    1. Derek,

      I finally got around to brewing a mosaic pale ale. I used 2 row, Vienna and inspired from your blog some carapils. I went for around 50 ibus of Warrior at 60 and then did Simco at 10 minutes and Amarillo and Mosaic at twice the amount of Amarillo at flame out for a hop stand. Used US-5.

      For dry hopping I did two equal additions of Mosaic: the first one for 3 day and the second one for 2.

      So as usual the beer tasted great at bottling time...maybe slightly green but the aroma and flavor coming off the Mosaic were good. I certainly got blueberry mixed with lime and citrus peel. The carapils added a great body to the beer. Would have been delighted to share with friends.

      But now after bottling the aroma/flavor has dropped just tastes and smells fruity in a generic sort of way. It resembles the previous few APA's I've made or in other words all the APA's I've made resemble each other after bottling even when using different hops. There are differences but they are so subtle it's frustrating. Not bad beers but not what they were at the time of bottling. Had you found this to be the same when you were bottling? Was the aroma/flavor difference from bottling to kegging that dramatic?

  11. When you say 1oz hopshot, do you really mean just one 5mL hopshot or do you actually mean 6-5mL syringes of hopshot?

    1. Good call! That was a typo, I believe. I just used one 5 ml hopshot to bitter.

  12. I've got a brew tomorrow that heavily features Mosaic. But I've been scared a bit because of reports that Mosaic is the MOST POTENT THING OF ALL TIME. Is this going to taste like shite?

    23 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 79.3 %
    4 lbs Rye, Flaked (2.0 SRM) Grain 3 13.8 %
    2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4 6.9 %
    2.00 oz Chinook [13.00 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 5 40.1 IBUs
    2.00 oz Mosaic (HBC 369) [12.25 %] - Boil 20.0 m Hop 6 21.4 IBUs
    2.00 oz Mosaic [12.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 7 12.5 IBUs
    2.00 oz Mosaic [12.00 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
    1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 60.0 Hop 9 9.4 IBUs
    1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35. Yeast 10 -
    2.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 0.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
    2.00 oz Mosaic [12.00 %] - Dry Hop 0.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs

    1. I suppose it's all subjective. I've had many Mosaic-forward beers at this point and loved them. Others seem turned off by it... but a lot of hops have that kind of polarizing flavor, too. The recipe looks good to me, I say go for it and see what you think. I think it sounds tasty!

  13. How many IBU have this recipe?

  14. Hi - looks great. However, what do you mean by "5ml Mosaic" ?

  15. Sorry - now reading the comments :-( my question becomes:
    I havent' seen hopshots around here - what proportion of hop pellets can I use?


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