This is not about exotic ingredients, but about balancing flavors for the ingredients we already use.
I was drinking a Pilsner Urquell the other day (the new cold shipped stuff) and was remarking to my wife that there are some very nice malty flavors, AND a pretty aggressive bitterness. This got me thinking
We normally like to talk about the balance between malt flavors and hop FLAVORS. Thinking of this, I was wondering about the PU in front of me. Then it dawned on me that bitterness is not a "flavor". Our tongue can sense sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. This is simply taste. This then combines with the aroma perceived in our nose, to create a flavor perception - which is mostly dependent on the aroma.
So this has me thinking that bitterness does counteract sweetness, but not necessarily malty flavors (as observed in the glass of PU), since the former are perceived on the tongue, and the latter in the nose. However, hop aromas and flavors do directly compete with malty flavors for receptors in you nose.
This seems then to suggest it would be very difficult to make a beer that is both hoppy (aroma and flavor) AND malty as these compete with one another for receptors in the nose. And that bitterness is not so important in terms of competing against these flavors.
I'll have to do a test batch and take a beer and ferment it out and then dry hop half, and not the other, and then compare the perceived maltiness of the two.
So then how does one make a beer that is both malty and hoppy?