Observing the evolution of hazy, juicy New England pale ales and IPAs, Dan DiSorbo was motivated to write a new, affectionate book about hops.
“I was immediately drawn to these beers’ intense hop aroma, smooth flavor and special pillowy mouthfeel,” says DiSorbo, the author of The Book of Hops: A Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to Hoppiness. “I found myself making trips to all the breweries throughout New England that were experimenting, refining and mastering recipes and methodologies to best express the characteristics of modern New World American hops. I became hooked on hops.”
DiSorbo traveled to other parts of the country and noticed an increasing number of breweries embracing hop-forward beers.
“Hops were the driving force behind craft brewing, and I wanted to learn as much as I could about these cone-shaped flowers,” DiSorbo says. “Looking back at my initial proposal for this book from 2015, it’s amazing to see how much has changed in the craft beer industry in such a short time. Luckily for me and this project, the U.S. brewery count has nearly doubled to more than 9,000 in that short period of time, and I believe the love for hoppy beers has driven that growth.”
DiSorbo’s book profiles 50 of the world’s most popular hops and describes 20 beer styles with a brief history and summary of each style’s taste profile.
Many books have been written about craft beer and hops, but DiSorbo insists there’s room on the shelf for his new book.
“When I first started my own personal journey toward becoming an enlightened hophead, there actually weren’t many books specific to hops,” he says. “There are many amazing books dedicated to other important topics like history and culture, science and brewing, beer styles and tasting, but nothing dedicated to the symbiotic relationship between hops and craft beer. Almost all books were geared toward industry professionals or home brewers, so they tend to be very analytical, technical or instructive. While I may enjoy textbooks of this nature, I found these books were overly complex and less appealing to your average craft beer drinker. I purposefully created The Book of Hops to be less complex and more like a sessionable beer, an enjoyable and easy drink.”
DiSorbo was part of a team that founded Bad Sons brewery in Derby, Connecticut, and now owns PB&J Design Inc., a graphic design company that creates artwork for beer labels.
He says it’s difficult to choose his favorite hop, because “hop varieties are often combined together to create new and unique sensory palettes.” But then he names some favorites.
“Lately, I’ve been enjoying the tropical characteristics of Southern Hemisphere hops like New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka, but New World American hops will always make my taste buds jump for joy with their classic citrusy and dank qualities,” DiSorbo says. “Newer varieties like Idaho 7 and Strata are becoming some of my favorites, but a well-made all-Mosaic or Citra hopped beer will always be go-to choices.”
Asked to name his favorite beer, he first talks about style.
“New England pale ales and IPAs will always hold a special place in my heart as my all-time favorite beer style, but I always say whatever beer I’m drinking now, because I enjoy exploring new beers and breweries,” DiSorbo explains. “When I was in the Pacific Northwest for hop harvest last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the cold IPAs from Wayfinder and pFriem breweries. They’re a new spin on a hop-forward IPA that’s crisp, refreshing and delicious.”
Stuck on a deserted island for life with only one beer in constant supply, which beer would he want?
“Given that setting and those circumstances, I’d choose something like Saison DuPont,” he says. “Saison was designed to quench the thirst of seasonal farm workers in Belgium where it was originally brewed. It’s well-balanced, nicely carbonated, light-bodied and pairs well with just about anything. It also utilizes a classic hop variety known as East Kent Goldings, so it will satisfy my hop cravings too.”