Hop is the “soul of the beer”, without it the bitterness in the beer and the aromas of some beer styles would be unthinkable. Here we clarify the distinction between bitter and aroma hops, and how you can customize the hop additions when brewing your own beer at home to your individual needs.
Why is hops so important in beer?
So that your beer tastes balanced, the malty sweetness in your beer is given a bitter component: the hops. Without hops your beer would be very sweet. But not only the taste is influenced by the hops. The shelf life of the beer also depends on the hops! Because hops have a preserving effect due to their bitterness, which is why brewing styles with a high hop content were brewed in the 18th and 19th centuries due to the lack of cooling options.
What is the difference between aroma and bitter hops?
Bitter hops contain many bitter substances and are therefore mainly used for the simple bitterness of the beer,while aroma hops make the beer taste and the bouquet even more diverse due to its high content of aromatic oils. Examples of popular bitter hop varieties are Magnum, Mosaic and Simcoe. Popular aroma hops are Cascade, which has citrusy aromas and is often used in “Pale Ale”, Citra offers lime and tropical fruit aromas, used in for “India Pale Ale” and East Kent Golding offers spicy-earthy aromas with teenagers in the “dark” beers.
Umbels or pellets?
Not only hobby brewers, but also professional breweries no longer only use hops as umbels in their pure form, but increasingly resort to pressed hops pellets. Parts of the hop which have no relevance to flavoring, such as the style, are removed during pellet production. The rest of the umbels are dried, ground and pressed into pellet form. The quality of the hops hardly suffers in this process, the hops can be in addition to the space savings but significantly better dose – which is why we prefer also the supply of hops in pellet form.
How do I adjust the bitterness in my home-brewed beer?
To release the bitterness and aroma oils from the hops, the hops are cooked in your future beer. Hop-cooking with the brew box takes 60 minutes. The rule of thumb is that the longer the hops are cooked, the more bitter substances are released from them. The shorter it is cooked, the more flavor oils that volatilize on prolonged cooking are dissolved.
An example: You want to brew a beer that is both crunchy-bitter and very aromatic, for example an India pale ale. To put it simply, we need a hop addition at the beginning of the hop cooking for the bitterness of the beer and a hop addition shortly before the end, in which the fine aroma of the aroma hop comes to advantage.
So, if your home-brewed beer is too bitter or too mild for you, you can easily adjust the hops: add the hops a bit earlier in the cooking process and your beer will be more bitter; Add it a little later or reduce the total amount added and your beer will be milder.