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All About Hops: What You Should Know
You know that there are different ingredients involved in brewing beer. Every ingredient has a specific purpose and is important to the overall product. If you plan on making your own brew from home, you need to know a bit about hops. Hops are very important to the beer making process. They not only give the beer a butter flavor to help balance the sweetness of the malt but they also help preserve your beer which is extremely important.
Hops are one of those key ingredients in your beer. You need to know not only what the hops are, but when and how they should be added to your wort when brewing your beer. All hops should be added after your wort has reached what is called the “hot break”. If the hops are added too soon, they may cause an instant hot break which will result in too much foam rising from the brewing pot and boiling all over the place.
So, did you know that there are different types and styles of hops that you need to choose from? In fact, hops can vary as much as a green pepper and a jalapeno. If you don’t get the right kind, it can be disaster to the type of beer you are trying to brew. There are also different stages at which you add hops to your beer.
Some types of hops are:
- Bittering hops are added quite soon after hot break, and boiled from about 45 minutes to an hour. They will add bitterness, but not much of the flowery smell.
- Aroma hops are added close to the end about 5 minutes before boiling is finished. They add much more smell.
- Finishing hops are added just as the heat is turned off. They give the beer a nice flowery aroma, but add very little bitterness.
If you are new to home brewing, you might find it easier to use a simple kit obtained from a supply shop that has a can of small pellet-sized hops already blended in with rich malt syrup for use in your home brew. However as you begin to brew more and more, you will learn to personalize it as a chef cooks in his own recipes and you will steer away from the pre-hopped kits more and more.
Customized hopping allows you to perfect the exact flavor you are searching for. So how and when do you add your hops? This varies according to the type of hops you are using. In addition to knowing what type to use, you need to know when to add it.
In a basic five gallon brew you need to add about one ounce of bittering hops at the start of a 45 to 60 minute boil. The next time you will add hops to your mix is for the last 20 to 30 minutes of the boil. These "flavor hops" produce unique flavors without a masking bitterness. Lastly, you will add hops with the very last minute of the boil. These are called finishing hops and they produce a flowery aroma.
In addition to the timing, you also need to know what type of hops to select from the many different types out there. If you are buying from a local supplier, they can offer you advice on the variety of hops to get for the type of brew that you intend to make. You can also order them online if you are having trouble getting the type that you want.
Another thing for you to keep in mind is storage. Where do you keep hops until they are used? Your hops can go stale easily so you will want to place them in a storage bag such as Ziplock or something similar where they are air-tight. Remove as much air as possible when you seal the bag and place the bag in your refrigerator.
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