Saturday, October 22, 2011

"I don't like that bitter taste". Understanding, acclimating, then falling in love with hops.

Being a beer fan for years i have come to love my hops. that nice floral and sometime bitter flavor in your that most newer beer drinkers have come to associate with beers they dont like. in order to fully judge a beer on the hops alone it would be fair to know why they are used during brewing in the first place.

Hops are the female flower cluster of the hop plant. the hop plant is a large climbing vine like species much like grape plants that is generally used to stabilize and flavor beer. in addition to its basic uses there are a number of other benefits from using them. they balance the sweetness of the malt, add antioxidants, and was found to reduce the spoilage of beers. traditional IPA's(india pale ale) feature a large amount of hop flavor. during the 17th-19th many IPA's were shipped to India so hops were added in excess to ensure the beers wouldnt spoil during the long trips across the ocean. but hops were used way back in the 800's as well.

hops being adding to the mash

Hops, like most plants have many different species. each one featuring a different taste quality than the other. brewers will now grow their hops specifically based on which flavors they are wanting to feature in any number of their beers. the brewer will harvest then either dry or use them fresh in their brewing method. most time the hops are added to the brewing method right around the time the brew begins boiling. although some breweries will add the dried hops directly to the beer then filter them out, others will sometimes pour the premature beer through a large strainer loaded with fresh hops. it simply adds a different flavor to the brew by quickly exposing the mix to the oils on the flowers. Think of hops like tea leaves in boiling water. same concept.

example of wet hopping using a strainer                                              

now knowing a little more about why that beer your drinking is bitter hopfully gives you some desire to delve into some hoppier brews. below are some "less hoppy" hoppy beers as i like to call them. these should give you the a nice introduction into hoppier beer and then the big IPA's. although the hops wont be as pungent, you will still get the bitterness when trying these out. 


Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
River Horse Special Ale

Peak Organic Nut Brown Ale

Anchor Brewing Porter

Wolaver's IPA

Otter Creek Black IPA

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