Addicted to Hops
For many craft beer enthusiasts, the most exciting element of their favorite beers are the aromas and flavors derived from the hops used in the brewing process. This is especially true when drinking IPAs, Pale Ales, Red Ales, and all the sub-styles of those beers.
The aromas and flavors provided by hops can be very seductive, and perhaps addictive to some. The wide array of aromas and flavors that hops provide can include: pine, grapefruit, floral, spiciness, earthiness, tropical fruit, mango, passion fruit, pineapple, peach, tangerine, lemon citrus, melon, pear, blueberry, watermelon, and woodiness. Combining these fantastic characteristics with a big bitter finish invites you back for more. On more than one occasion we’ve felt a strong desire for a massively hopped IPA to quench our passion for hops.
Gaining an understanding of individual hops and the character they add to craft beers can be of great benefit when searching for a hoppy beer with certain character (earthy, citrusy, fruity).
Hops can come into play during many phases of the brewing process:
Mash Hopping – technique where hops are added to the initial mash along with the brewing grains and hot water. The process extracts some moderate flavor from the hops.
First Wort Hopping – Adding hops to the brewing kettle pre-boil, during sparging. Sparging is the process of using hot water to extract the sugars from the brewing grains, which then go on to be boiled.
Boil (60 minutes or more) – Hops added to the boiling wort for 60 minutes or longer are used to provide bitterness only, as aroma and flavoring components will be burnt off from the long boiling period.
Boil (30 minutes or less) – Hops added in the last 30 minutes of the boil will contribute flavor to the beer, and some light aromas. When added at flame-out the hops will contribute aroma to the finished beer.
Hop-Backing – Flushing the hot wort through a hop-back system with fresh hops in it, right before the wort is chilled, will add some aroma and flavor to the final beer.
Dry-Hopping – Added hops to aging beer once the primary fermentation is done. This is the best way to add intense hop aromatics to finished beer.