Humans have been brewing beer for thousands of years, but the use of hops is a relatively new development. The first recorded uses of hops began to show up in significant numbers in the monastic breweries of Germany in the 1100’s, and like many beer traditions born in that country, they’re still used today.
The German monasteries began using hops to replace an ingredient known as gruit, which was a combination of herbs, and an industry standard was born that quickly crossed cultural and geographic boundaries. From casual, Saturday afternoon ball game beer drinkers to serious aficionados to everyone in between, today’s beer consumers associate the beverage with hops.
Hops aren’t a one-size-fits-all ingredient, however. There are two different types of hops used in quality beer brewing, and they serve separate purposes. They’re called aroma hops and bittering hops. Here’s what they are and what they do.
Have you ever drank an overly sweet beer? It doesn’t sound appealing, does it? One of the beer’s trademark flavor characteristics is that discernible bitter bite, whether it’s a domestic lager or a small batch IPA. Without bittering hops, all beers would be too cloyingly sweet for most palates, and it probably wouldn’t exist except possibly as a very small-market specialty beverage.
The bitterness comes from alpha acids present in hop flowers. Brewers use a scale known as International Bitterness Units (IBU) to measure the active ingredient in alpha acids, isohumulone, in parts-per-millions. Isohumulone is extracted during the boiling process. The longer the boil, the more bitter the beer.
Unlike flavoring hops, which are added to the boil during the final 15-20 minutes, aroma hops are introduced to the brew at the end of the boiling process. Also referred to as finishing hops, their purpose is to provide the beer with a final layer of finish. In a process known as dry-hopping, some brewers add them after the boil has completely subsided as the mixture ferments.
The reason for subjecting aroma hops to as little extreme heat as possible is that the volatile nature of the essential oils contained in hops causes them to evaporate very quickly. When dry hopping is used, the end product has a distinctly enhanced “hoppy” flavor.
Bittering & Aroma Hops from Buck Creek Hops
The same hop varieties are often used for bittering, flavoring, and finishing. Hops used as both bittering and aroma hops are often referred to as dual-purpose hops. Dual-purpose hops from Buck Creek Hops include:
There are some hops that only serve as aroma hops. These hops generally have bigger and more diverse flavors. Buck Creek Hops’s aroma hops include:
Purchasing Bittering & Aroma Hops
Whether you’re searching for bittering hops, aroma hops, or a mixture of both, Buck Creek Hops has the right hops for you! Shop our online store of 24-hour field-to-freezer hops today and get the freshest hops, guaranteed!