She said.......
It's about the beer
                        He said........

Gina Miller            and                Bill Keeper

Hey Bill,  -
I was enjoying a few pints the other night with our mutual friend Greg, better known as the
Paladin of Beer, when he asked me a question that make me think a bit - are craft beers too
hoppy?  As you know Greg is one of the most knowledgeable beer guys around so you have
to listen when he says that over-hopped beers, especially those dominated by bitter grapefruit
notes have overwhelmed craft beer. His hypothesis is that craft brewing is sowing the seeds of
it's own demise with a mindless obsession and addiction to hops.

He might have a point since the first thing said by most people when tasting their initial craft
beer is that it's too bitter.  That's not a first impression that will bring them over to craft beer.   
Of course not all craft beer is hoppy.   There are many styles where hops are not emphasized
and there are  many craft breweries that create balanced beers with little bitterness.  Having
said that the craft beer remains in the eyes of many forever stereotyped as a hop bomb.

In a way I can understand that perception. The beer that more or less launched the
contemporary craft beer movement, Sierra Nevada’s pale ale, was, for its time, a supremely
hoppy beer. In 1980, when most of the nation’s beers were produced by Anheuser-Busch,
Miller, and Coors, Sierra Nevada’s pale ale was a revelation of flavor as it used more hops
than most brewers at the time would ever consider.

Personally, I love the fact that there are lots of choices to be made when it comes to hops.  For
example, if you want the big, piney flavor you might use Chinook, if you favor the mild
earthiness of the traditional English ales you'd pick Fuggles hops. You can decide whether
you’ll add them fresh, dried, or pulverized and compacted into tiny pellets for greater
consistency. Maybe you’ll give your beer a big burst of hoppy aromatic oils by adding them
after fermentation.  It's differentiation like that which makes craft beer so exciting to me.

While Greg agreed to the excitement of hops for we experienced beer drinkers, he added that
from consumer’s standpoint, beers overloaded with hops are a gimmick of sorts because
above a certain level the subtle flavors of the various hops cannot be tasted by the human
palate as measured by  the number of  IBUs (International Bitterness Units) in a beer.  That
number indicates the concentration of isomerized alpha acid—the compound that makes hops
taste bitter.  He recalled reading that the tasting threshold is around 75 IBUs.  If so, that begs
the question of what's the point,  with  producing beers that exceed 100 IBU's?

Look Bill, if you want I will gladly talk to  you about the differences between wild and cultivated
lab yeast, and the weird flavors brewers can create with trees or flowers or whatever. I would
even enjoy discussing craft-malted barley and how it compares to traditional imported
European malts but when it comes to drinking beer, give me hops, the more the better!

That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time.

Hello Gina,  
As an acknowledged hop head I'm happy to say that IPAs remain the #1 beer style in the US.  
While I can understand why it might be off putting to the less adventurous beer drinkers, hoppy
beers are something they will eventually embrace as their palate becomes more sophisticated.
And as you mentioned there are many styles like Pilsners, Alts, Berlinerweisse, Kellerweiss,
Vienna Lagers, etc. where hops are decidedly in the background.

Look Gina, the main reason hoppy beers gets some much attention and shelf space is simple -
they’re popular and they’re the beers that most people want. I don't blame them either.  Think
about those main stream adjunct laden, watery tasteless,swill beers that most Americans drank
for so long. Hoppy craft beers set us free.  Need proof?  The marketplace has spoken as
consumers have continued to ask for more and more hoppy beers.  Breweries are businesses
remember so they responded with hops!

I don't think we have to worry about losing newcomers because craft beer is too hoppy. New
drinkers will easily respond to other craft styles as they get comfortable with more hops.   And to
be brutally honest I won't lose too much sleep over not being  able to convert a Coors Light fan
to craft beer.  They obviously have a right to like whatever they want,even if it is terrible.  

By the way,hops are used in almost all beers these days – by law in the US,  In fact, brew without
them and technically you're making a food product which means it is regulated by the US Food
and Drug Administration, not the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.  

I find it interesting that most of the anti-hop arguments seem to be speaking about hops in terms
of bitterness. They clearly ignore the flavor and aroma that hops impart to a beer. I have tasted
many “west coast” IPAs that have very little bitterness, but deliver fantastic flavor and aroma. As
more and more new hop varieties hit the market, the possibilities in new, different and exciting
flavors are endless. Hop heads will never get bored.

Consider this Gina, the concept of a beer being too hoppy is totally subjective.  One person's
hop bomb might easily be another's easy-drinking pale ale.  Is the beer too hoppy if it starts out
with a pleasant herbal, noble hop aroma and finishes with a crisp snappy bite? My point is that
hoppy is frequently mis-used as a synonym for bitter, I actually think that it's wrong to term a beer
as ‘hoppy’ since for some it's a pejorative.  Let's talk about taste and flavors.  By the way that's
one reason I read
Sandy Feld's beer reviews here on BeerNexus- he's specific and clear in
describing what the beer tastes like.

As for the future Ii think the next step is beer brewed from single hop varieties, and possibly even
single hop yards - take that you anti-hop folks!

Here's looking at you Gina
Round 47