How to brew with hops.

hops on vine

Hops are a flower which was introduced to brewing about 1000 years ago but have only been in common use for 200 years. Lupilinn resin is the active bittering agent in hops. Alpha acid percent is a way of rating the bittering power of a hop variety. The fact that hops are flowers tells us everything we need to know about handling them. Hops are delicate and impart the necessary bitterness required to balance the sweetness of the malt. They provide the spice flavor in beer and the aroma which prepares the taste buds. While color is the most obvious beer style characteristic; bitterness, flavor and aroma provide the primary distinction between beer styles. There is a large selection of hop varieties to choose from. Most are available in whole, pellet and leaf forms. Pellets are preferred by most brewers because they are most predictable.

The bitterness, flavor and aroma of hops are released into the wort through boiling. The timing of additions of hops to the wort is called a hopping schedule. The amount of bitterness imparted to the wort in called utilization. There are four basic classifications of hop use; bittering, flavoring, finishing and dry hopping. These terms refer to how the selected hop variety is used.

Bittering hops are added to the boil for their bittering potential only. They contribute very little hop flavor and aroma. The bitterness utilized from the hops is a function of time and the total available bittering power in the hops.

Flavor and aroma hops are added to the wort during the final 15 to 5 minutes of boiling time. This is done to season the wort without boiling off all of the hop flavor and aroma; the shorter the time the greater the aroma.

Simple hopping schedule

Bittering - 1.0 oz. Northern Brewer for 60 minutes

Flavor - 0.5 oz. Fuggles for 15 minutes

Aroma - 0.5 oz. Fuggles for 5 minutes

A disposable hopping bag is the easiest way to control hops. This is a muslin sack which can be tied off at both ends with the hops inside. Be sure that there is enough room inside the bag for the hops to expand. We want to expose the hops to as much of the wort as possible. Most recipes will call for two or more hopping steps. The amount of time the wort is exposed to the hops determines the extent of bittering, flavor and aroma imparted to the beer. The first hopping step is for bittering.

Bittering hops need to be boiled for the longest period of time. On average a one hour boil will extract all of the available bittering power of most hop varieties. Simply place the bittering hop sack into the brew pot once the wort has begun to boil. The hops will cause the wort to foam so be prepared to control the situation until the wort settles down. It is a good idea to set a timer to remind you when the wort is ready for the next addition of ingredients.

Finishing hops are used to add hop flavor and aroma to the beer. Simple drop the finishing hops into the wort and prepare to avoid an over boil. Putting the proper finish on a brew requires some experimentation and fine tuning to your taste. The longer finishing hops are boiled the more flavor and less aroma they will contribute. If they are allowed to boil longer than 20 minutes, the flavor will dissipate and only bitterness will remain.

homebrewed beer with malted grains and hop flowers

Home Beer Brewing

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