WHAT ARE HOPS

 

Hops transformed beer in more than one way and the number of ways that hops can improve the overall flavor of beer is almost endless. Here is why you want to learn more about the use of hops. See, hops are for the most part known to bitter, flavor and give aroma to beer. However, there are other hop benefits most brewers never consider like boosting foam on beer and the way it clings to the side of your mug as well as protection from wort spoilers.

In fact, the most common use for hops back in the day was to preserve beer. IPAs developed because beer needed to make it across long sea voyages during their exports to India. To make sure that was the case, beer was heavily hopped and walla, IPAs were born. Home Brewing Hops Average Alpha Acid % Cascade 5.75% Centennial 9.75% Chinook 12% Crystal 3.75% Nugget 12.75% Willamette 5.25%

So what exactly is a hop?

It is a plant which produces a flower from which the hop cones are formed. The hop cone is what brewers use and refer to as hops. The characteristics which brewers care about from the hop is the amount of Alpha Acids, Beta Acids, Soft Resins, Oils, Hydrocarbons, Tannins, Oxygen and Sulfur Containing Compounds.

You can use hops in its slightly processed whole or cone form or buy them processed as plugs or pellets.

The difference in these hops is mostly on how a brewer plans on using the hop. Since whole hops are just lightly processed, brewers perceive the hops to be of higher quality when it comes to adding aroma to beer. That explains more or less why we prefer to use them for dry hopping. Whole hops tend to float when boiling and it is easy to separate from the wort when transferring to the fermenter which is good if you are extremely concerned about brewing a clear beer. Hop plugs are very similar to whole hops, only they come in half ounce disks. This can make it easier to make hop additions during the boil.

Pellets on the other side, will dissolve once in the wort which is a reason why it is not recommended to use them for dry hopping. However, pellet hops will store better than plugs or whole hops. They also appear to have a better hop utilization rate, and there are ways to separate from the trub before going into the fermenter.

The number of different ways you can hop your beer when home brewing is almost infinite, but we can classify these as a few different methods.

Traditional Hopping

Home brewers stir in bittering, flavoring and aroma hops during the boil. They classify 60 minute hops as bittering, 20-30 minute hops as flavoring, 15 minutes and under as aroma or finishing hops. For the most part a home brewer looks at the alpha acid units for bittering hops, and oils and resins for aroma and flavor.

Multiple Addition Or Continuous Hopping

IPAs and some other beers follow this approach of hopping. Brewers basically add hops throughout the boil every 5 or 10 minutes or some determined number, but continuously throughout the boil. This will give you an extremely hoppy beer and if you are following this approach, you must do your homework on choosing the right hops to avoid getting a grassy taste on your beer.

Hop Bursting

Another common method hop heads have added to their tool belt is adding a bunch of hops at or near the end of the boil. This is a practice also done for beers like IPAs where a brewer is trying to get a burst of hop aroma and flavor.

Hopbacks

Home brewers filtered the trub in their wort before transferring to a fermenter. They would use a strainer to hold back some of the hot break and hops. However, since hops dissolve into very small particles, they started using whole hops to help strain the boiled hops and realized that this also added additional hop character and the practice became known as hop back. This method primarily gives beers aroma and flavor.

First Wort Hopping

The moment sugar is added to water it becomes wort. When hops are added right at this time, the method is called first wort hopping. This method is common with all grain brewers using first wort hopping during the mash to give beer a more rounded bitterness and hop nose.

Dry Hopping

Most commonly done during secondary fermentation is dry hopping, although the term is actually used to refer to hopping any time after the wort has been cooled. It can be done by adding hops to a keg as well. Whole hops are usually preferred for this and usually are bagged to separate them from the beer.

Krausen Hopping

Similar to dry hopping, krausen hopping is adding highly hopped fermenting beer to a lager beer that is done fermenting to enhance the hoppiness. The difference here is that the hops from krausen beer have been boiled and therefore will add bitterness and not just aroma.

Hop Aroma Tea

To add more flavor to beer, wort is boiled and added to a french press with hops to extract aroma from the hops. This wort becomes a hop tea and it is then added to conditioning beer. Since the hops are not boiled, you will not be adding bitterness, but will add a nice kick of flavor and aroma.

Bottle Hopping

Another time a hop head will add hops to their beer is during bottling. When a home brewer is preparing their priming sugar, they may add hops and mix it in their bottling bucket to give their beers a nice boost in hop flavor and aroma.

Hopping At Dispense

A little known method of hopping in a method developed by Dogfish Head where they use a hop filter to push beer through when serving from a keg. The tool used is called a randall and it makes beer pick up aroma and a bit of flavor right as it is being served. Because of the properties of hops, beer will be served foamierrr, foamy.