by Liv Hinckley
Hello to Bob and all his readers! First let me tell you I not only love
reading your column but also greatly enjoy the ones sent in by regular
folks like me. Well, maybe I'm not that regular after all because I just
can't find a beer with enough hops to satisfy me. Oh, don't get me
wrong. There are some fabulous hop heavy brews out there it's just
that I can't find one that's over-hopped. Just call me a hop-head's
hop head! Hops can do no wrong in my book. It speaks to the love
craft beer drinkers have of them that India pale ale has become the
top-selling craft beer style crushing the number of pale ale fans, a style
that used to be number one. If the trend continues don't be
surprised if the even more hop-loaded imperial IPA style takes the
Bob, some of your readers might be surprised to know that hop seed
cone is related to marijuana (they both belong to the family
Cannabinaceae). Dont worry, they don't have the same effect. Hops
have been around a long time; they have been cultivated since the
Middle Ages when brewers realized they could add a needed bite to the
bland sweetness of the malt. As an added bonus those same hops
proved to have antibacterial properties that helped keep the beer
from going bad for longer periods.
Still, hops were not universally welcomed. There is a tale that Henry
VIII gave the royal ale brewer strict orders to use "neither hops nor
brimstone" in the king’s beers. Even today you'd be hard pressed to
find more than a "kiss of the hops" in American macro brews since
those companies seem to believe that bold flavor doesn't sell.
If you want to get a general idea about the pronouncement of hops
in your beer check out its IBUs. It's a unit that measures alpha acids,
the main bittering chemical in hops. For example a typical IPA might
have 60 IBUs while a Bueweiser might have 10. Some beers actually
claim to have over 125 IBUs despite the fact that others believe the
human taste buds will not register anything over 100 IBUs. As for the
flavors from the hops think things like pine resin, grapefruit, orange
The good news is that there are hundreds of types of hops, in fact,
some strains so new and experimental that they’re identified only by
numbers. However it's easy to simply consider the fact that there are
basically two types of hops. Aroma hops have a lower alpha acid
percentage and an oil profile associated with good aroma. These hops
are generally used as a finishing or conditioning hop. Bitter hops have
a higher alpha acid percentage. These hops are generally used in the
boiling process to extract bitterness. And there are a few varieties that
are considered dual-purpose.
I admit that really hoppy beers tend to be stronger, that is, have a
higher percentage of alcohol. Some brewers tell me that higher alcohol
simply is a product of seeking to make beers with huge tastes since
more of everything goes into the brewing process. So far so good,
however unfortunately for my taste buds some of the so called hoppy
monsters still try to balance the flavors of the beer with copious
amounts of malt. Oh well. Anyway, there are several session beers like
Founders All Day IPA that will give you a solid amount of hops.
There you have it, my take on hops. I'm still in search of that beer
that makes a American West Coast IPA taste like a a malty Scotch Ale.
Guess I'll just have to go on drinking beer until I find it!
Thanks Bob for giving me a chance to talk beer with your readers! I
really enjoyed writing the article.
Great job Liv! I'm a fellow hop lover so I understand you affection
for that wonderful ingredient. I invite everyone to send me their own
columns about beer just as Liv did. I'll select the best ones and publish
them here. So join in and get writing!
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