Using Hops 101 – Pt 2

Yesterday I went over a bit of background on hops and how to use them. Today, we’ll focus on some more practical application. I’ll go over a few “advanced” techniques as well, but honestly I don’t think they’re that hard. And as a beginning brewer, they can let you brew better beers earlier in your career. These are definitely things I wish I knew when I started out.

Hops in the Boil

This is the most basic way brewers add bitterness and aroma to their beer. You’ll use about an ounce or two total for a 5 gallon batch. Once your wort comes to a boil, you’ll add your bittering hops. These will stay in the boil the longest (up to 60-90 minutes) and generally have a higher AA% than your finishing or aroma hops and contribute mainly to the flavor of the beer, not the aroma.

You finishing hops are usually added within the last 10 minutes or so and are generally lower in AA% (under 6%). They won’t really affect the bitterness of the beer, but will add aroma to it which can be equally as important. The gist here is that the oils in the hops don’t evaporate like they do in the boil, leaving a stronger smell than the bittering hops.

First Wort Hopping (FWH)

While this is mainly an all-grain technique, you can do it with extract as well. Check out the all-grain technique in this post. For extract or partial extract, add about 30% of your bittering hops to your kettle as you are bringing it to a boil.  Moving a portion of your bittering hops helps blend the flavor more into the background of the beer for a smoother, less sharp flavor with a more pleasing aroma. Moving a portion of the finishing or aroma hops to first wort should give you a smoother pilsner style hoppiness.

In general, this technique will produce a more complex, blended, harmonic flavor for any beer.

Dry Hopping

With dry hopping, you add some hops to your secondary fermentor to give your beer more aroma than if you just add hops at the end of the boil. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll get aroma from late addition hops, but if you want a really strong aroma – like in an IPA, this is the way to go.

Select a low alpha acid hops (6% or less), add about 1 oz for a 5 gallon batch and let it sit for 10-14 days. Dry hopping does not add any additional bitterness to your beer, but the aroma will be amped up, which could add a perceived “extra bitterness” to the brew since smell is such an integral part of taste. Hops heads, this one’s for you.

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