Friday, November 9, 2007

Hop in

Hops can be harnessed in beer using a myriad of methods. But first, a Reader's Digest version of how beer is made:

  1. Cracked grain (e.g. malted barley) is added to a large vessel called a mash tun. Hot water (150F-160F) is added to the tun and the grain is allowed to steep at this temperature for about an hour.
  2. The liquid is drained off the grain, leaving the grain behind. The sweet liquid is called "wort". As the liquid is being drained, more hot liquid is being used to rinse the grain, this is called sparging.
  3. The wort is then transferred to the brew kettle where it is brought to a boil and boiled for 60 minutes or more. Hops are added and let to boil for varying times depending on the application.
  4. The wort is rapidly cooled to room temperature using a chiller. Once room temp is reached the wort is transferred into a fermenter. Yeast is pitched into the beer and mixed.
  5. The yeast-infused wort is then aerated with oxygen to make fermentation more vigorous.
  6. The beer is allowed to ferment, anywhere from 2 weeks to several months. Once fermentation is complete the beer may be aged in a cold vessel, then kegged or bottled.


Mash Tun Hops: Added to the mash tun and steeped with the grains during the mash. The aroma hops are usually used for this application. This adds extra hop flavor and aroma.

Brew Kettle Hops:

  • "Full Wort Hop": This hop is added to the brew kettle as the wort is being transferred from the mash tun. This allows the hop to steep in the wort before it is boiled, contributing more hop flavor and aroma to the beer. Once the brew kettle is filled, the hop addition goes through the entire boil.
  • Bittering Hops: These hops are boiled for an hour or more. They are used only to bitter the beer and contribute no flavor or aroma.
  • Flavor Hops: These hops are boiled for about 30 to 15 minutes and contribute hop flavors to the beer and medium levels of bitterness.
  • Aroma Hop: This hop is boiled for 15 minutes or less. It primarily contributes hop aroma and some flavor. Bitterness contribution is minimal.
Alternate Hopping Methods:
  • Dry Hopping: Adding aroma hops into the fermenter post-boil. This imparts huge hop aromas to the beer without adding bitterness. The hops are left in the fermenter for 2 weeks or more.
  • Wet Hopping/Fresh Hopping: Relatively new process by which fresh hops are used in place of the traditional dried hops and hop pellets. This adds a unique "green" aroma and flavor to the beer and adds unique and pungent aromas. Process was first used by Sierra Nevada for their Harvest Ale.

1 comment:

Annalou said...

ggrgehergerrrrggrrg... my mouth waters for hoppiness! Thanks for the fantastic info!