Home Brew Bloggers on May 27, 2020 0 Comments If you’re a fan of beer, then you may also be into homebrewing. Despite beer being around for millennia, hops have only been used in beer for several centuries. Before you consider how hops are used in your homebrew, it’s important to know the purpose of beer hops. What Are Beer Hops? Hops are flowers from the female hop plant whose scientific name is Humulus lupulus. Hops are shaped like green upside-down hanging pinecones. The flowers contain oils and resins, which brewers mix and use. They do so by peeling back the leaves of the plant to reach the yellow lupulin glands where the compound that is added to beer is contained. When sold at a market, you will usually see hops in the form of pellets or dried flowers. You may also find hop oils or powders. Hops were first used in the brewing process so that people could preserve the beer for extended periods. Soon after, they were used to give aroma and flavor to the beer. Hops develop different tastes and smells, depending on where they are grown. Since you know what beer hops are now, we can proceed to see how they are used in the making of beer. The following are some of the factors you’ll have to consider before using hops for your homebrew: Are You Using Them for Taste or Aroma? Hops are typically divided into two categories: those used for taste and those used for aroma. Bitter hops have high amounts of alpha acid which gives beer its bitter taste. On the other hand, these hops do nothing for aroma and flavor. The other type of hops are aroma hops, and they have low acidic content. They are very similar to essential oils, and they are used to give the beer an aromatic and delicious taste. Some hops have a moderate acidic content which allows them to have a balanced blend of bitterness and aroma. When making your homebrew you will have to decide how much of each to use. When Are the Hops Harvested? If you’re going to use hops for your homebrew, then you need to know when they are harvested because they have to be harvested during a particular time. The best hops are those that are harvested in autumn. Harvesting them too late makes them lose their aroma. It also reduces their storage life which can end up being costly. Early harvesting of hops not only reduces their flavor but also reduces the strength and yield of future seasons. Their perfume will also be lost. Where Are the Hops Grown? The flavor and aroma of hops are highly dependent on where they are grown. Weather conditions, soils and improved treatment give hops their different characteristics. Hops from different places will taste differently. If you want hops with a higher alpha acid content or higher amount of essential oils, you’ll have to ask about the origin of the hops. Hops from Europe have a more robust flavor and aroma. Those from America have higher alpha acidic content which makes them bitter. Types of Hops There are a wide variety of hops, but three main types exist: English hops, American hops and Noble Hops. Noble hops originate from the Czech Republic and Germany and are the most classic type of hops. They have low levels of alpha acid content and high levels of the aromatic essential oil humulene. American hops are bold and fragrant. They include high levels of essential oil myrcene, which gives them the scent of pine and citrus. English hops are delicate and subtle. Since they have low levels of myrcene, they have a touch of earth, woods, herbs, and more natural fragrances. Compared with Noble and American hops, English are the tiniest portion of hops. When Will You Add the Hops? Another primary consideration you’ll have to make is the moment you will add the hops into your homebrew. Typically, brewers add hops after mashing when the grain transforms from malt to wort before you start boiling the product. Boiling the hops initiates a process known as isomerization which transforms the alpha acid into iso-alpha acid, and the result is what gives your brew its bitter taste. The more you boil the hops, the more bitter the brew. However, it’s not recommended to surpass the 45-minute mark when boiling. If you want more flavor in your brew, you should add the hops later in the boiling process. You will also want to reduce the boiling time to between 15 and 30 minutes. If you want your brew to have a great aroma, you should add them at the end of the process and boil them for no longer than 5 minutes. When you add hops after the fermentation process, it’s known as dry hopping. It involves soaking the hops inside the fermented mixture for days or weeks once it has cooled. The above are only some of the considerations you’ll have to make for your homebrew. The more you experiment with hops the more you’ll discover in the process and learn the flavors and aromas you like to brew best.