Hops, hops, and more hops!

Hops are the flowers most commonly used as flavoring agent in beer. Renown for the bitter, citrus, herbal, and zesty flavors they display in beer; hops have become inseparable from beer for many consumers and critics alike. The technical name of the hop plant is Humulus Iupulus, and many different varieties of hops are grown around the world. Historically many different combinations of herbs and spices were used for brewing beer before the widespread use of hops emerged. Hops are well known to have anti-bacterial properties and in high concentrations such as an IPA(India Pale Ale), they can even prevent beer from spoiling in warm conditions such as on a sea voyage. The benefits of hops were quickly realized in old times, likely leading to their dominance.

Historically many different combinations of herbs and spices were used for brewing beer before the widespread use of hops emerged. Hops are well known to have anti-bacterial properties and in high concentrations such as an IPA(India Pale Ale), they can even prevent beer from spoiling in warm conditions such as on a sea voyage. The benefits of hops were quickly realized in old times, likely leading to their dominance. Although there are many technical variations of hops, there are two main types we can simplify to; bittering and aroma hops. Bittering hops generally have a higher concentration of alpha acids which infuse a bitter flavor when boiled into the beverage.

Bittering hops generally have a higher concentration of alpha acids which infuse a bitter flavor when boiled into the beverage. Bittering hops are generally boiled at least 15 minutes, but more likely the full 60 minutes of boiling time allotted to the wort to maximize utilization of alpha acids in the hops.

Aroma hops generally have lower alpha acid levels and are chosen because of their high concentration of fragile essential oils instead. These hops are generally added in the last 30 minutes and again in the last 5 minutes to give the beer hop flavor without as much bittering and the hop aroma sought out my many beer drinkers.

Lastly, almost entirely for aroma hops can be added after the boiling process when the “wort” is cool and generally has mostly finished fermentation. This process is called a “dry hop” and is used to transfer the smelly essential oils into the beer without any heat to destroy them.

The next pale ale or IPA you enjoy, take a second to think about when they might have added the hops.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Hops, hops, and more hops!

  1. Pingback: Grain, and how it becomes beer | Tanner Brews

  2. Pingback: Ales VS Lagers, Whats the Difference Anyways? | Tanner Brews

  3. Pingback: Beer Aroma, Just How Important is it? | Tanner Brews

  4. Pingback: 1st Batch Ready? Should it be All-Grain or Extract brewed? Find out! | Tanner Brews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s