Not that Ace, then?

I have noticed the occasional remark in the past few days disparaging the Japanese trendy lemony-hop, Sorachi Ace.

‘Too much Sorachi Ace…’

‘Ugh, Sorachi Ace in it? No thanks…’

‘Considering it uses Sorachi, I quite liked it…’

It seems it really rubs some people up the wrong way. This is odd to me because, until recently, I had thought it was almost universally loved; a sort of subtle foil to the lupulin fireworks of American hops.

Sorachi Ace was born in 1988, from a pairing of Brewer’s Gold and Saaz, but has only in the past few years found popularity in the UK, presumably in line with the growth in experimental brewing. I’ve noted some people taste Sorachi Ace as an oily, bubblegum-like note, while others drinking the same beer will croon about the similarly subtle, fragrant, citrus and floral notes found in Thai cuisine.

Bristol Beer Factory’s Acer, Toccalmatto Zona Cesarini, Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (a saison) and Duvel Tripel Hop 2013 are all beers that I’ve had recently that use the hop, and I enjoyed them all. A lot. I generally quite like the lemon character that Sorachi Ace imparts to lighter-coloured beers of any strength. Sometimes it’s lemongrass, sometimes it’s lemon zest, or even dill. All shades of lemon, but still very welcome in the beers I’ve tasted it in, either on its own or in balance with other hops.

So why the schism? Is it a hop that can be used particularly unskilfully by brewers trying to ride the trend? Or are some people especially sensitive to Sorachi’s Aceness? I’d like to get a consensus here. Are you a friend or foe of Sorachi Ace?

Author: Chris Hall

London-based freelance beer writer and blogger. Member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Co-author of 'Craft Beer: 100 Best Breweries in The World' On Twitter @ChrisHallBeer.

3 thoughts on “Not that Ace, then?”

  1. Sorachi Ace is our friend. It’s one of the hops that’s really stood out for me this year exactly because of those beers you’ve mentioned; all of them stand-out, knockdown, bang-up beers. But hey, I think Citra is overrated, and everyone else raves about that, so what does my opinion count for anyway?

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  2. I love Sorachi Ace, I’m big on savory and this hop is big on savory. It’s also used to beautiful effect in Thornbridge Bracia and I believe it’s also in the new Meantime Imperial Pils so I’m looking forward to bashing down a bottle of that in the near future.

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  3. I like Sorachi Ace and have enjoyed the beers you mention. But it’s certainly a hop that divides opinion in my experience, and I think it does need careful use. I’ve had a couple of Sorachi Ace hopped beers where it’s been used with a perhaps over generous hand and thye’ve not been happy drinking experiences.

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