For the love of hops: the practical guide to aroma, bitterness and the culture of hopsWorldCat•LibraryThing•Google Books•BookFinderBrewing Elements Series
Read 8-17 August 2013
This entry in the Brewers Publications Brewing Elements Series provides exactly what its subtitle claims: “The practical guide to aroma, bitterness and the culture of hops.” I found it an enjoyable and enlightening read. Highly recommended to all beer lovers and not just hop heads.
This is not much of a review but is mostly my notes sprinkled within an outline of the book. Be aware: some sections—the larger breakouts—are not mentioned. “§” is a section or subsection heading.
- Acknowledgments ix
- Foreword (by Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada) xi
- Introduction 1
- 1. The Hop and Aroma 15
- 2. A Plant With a Past 45
- 3. A Plant With a Future 65
- 4. Growing Hops 87
- 5. Harvesting Hops 113
- 6. The Hop Store 131
- 7. Hops in the Brewhouse 175
- 8. Dry Hopping 205
- 9. The Good, the Bad, and the Skunky 225
- 10. What Works 239
- 11. Epilogue 275
- Bibliography 285
- Index 301
Ken Grossman writes,
“This book is an amazing compendium on the hop, written at a level that will captivate historians, chemists, and brewers alike. … This book is technically sound, very well researched and footnoted, and digs into the use and history of hops in a deep and relevant way, for those in the brewing industry and those just curious about this amazing plant.” (xiv)
I believe he is correct on all of those points.
Introduction: Hops in the twenty-first century
These notes were just to help me get a feel for some of the recent data on hop production and use.
“High alpha/bitter hops constitute about 61 percent of hops planted worldwide and produce about 76 percent of alpha acids, which are traded as a commodity.” (4)
“Aroma hop acreage worldwide shrank 49 percent between 1991 and 2011. Alpha hop acreage dipped 5 percent, but because farmers grew better-yielding varieties that contained higher percentages of alpha acids, overall alpha production increased 59 percent.” (4)
“Although U.S. craft brewers made less than 6 percent of beer sold in 2011, they used about 60 percent of domestically grown aroma hops.” (4)
§ Me to Mirror: So you Want to Write a Book About Hops?
§ About the Book
“The first chapter provides a primer on essential oils, the production of odor compounds, and how the human sensory system and brain turn those into aromas.” (11)
“The second and third chapters examine the plant’s past and future.” (11)
“Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the farm, growing hops, then harvesting and drying them.” (11)
“Chapter 6, The Hop Store, includes a summary of all of the forms available to brewers and provides vital information about and descriptions of 105 varieties.” (12)
“The hop arrives in the brewery in Chapter 7, the first of three that look at the chemistry of the hop; extracting, calculating, measuring, and understanding bitterness; the results of different additions throughout the brewing process; and ways brewer may maximize the benefits of using hops. The eighth chapter deals specifically with dry hopping, both how brewers add hops post-fermentation and all the variables they consider. Chapter 9 includes … measures brewers may take to assure quality, the benefits hops provide in sustaining beer quality, and the possible details.” (12)
“In Chapter 10 brewers provide recipes that illustrate how they use hops.” (12)
“There are no predictions about future fashion in the final chapter, but there are some thoughts from participants who will have a direct impact on “What’s next?”” (12)
1. The Hop and Aroma: The legend of BB1, and why you smell tomato plants and I smell tropical fruits
§ Hop Oils: Secrets Not Yet Revealed
Reiterating for myself what hops do in/for beer:
“… seven positive attributes hops contribute in brewing:
- Flavor (a combination of aroma and taste)
- Foam and lacing
- Flavor stability
- They are anti-microbial, …” (19)
§ Less Is More and Other Aroma Secrets
“[Buck and Axel] later found that closer to 350 of the [olfactory] receptor types may be active, but even that number dwarfs the four types of receptors necessary for vision. About 1 percent of human genes are devoted to olfaction. Only the immune system is comparable, which is one reason smell is referred to as the “most enigmatic of our senses.”” (28)
I found this fascinating, although one must be careful making such arguments for “complexity.”
§ Hop Aroma Impact
§ The Language of Aroma and Flavor
orthonasal (breathing in) vs. retronasal (breathing out) (36)
The Beer Aroma Wheel from Hochschule RheinMain University of Applied Science (38, en27 [GET])
§ Why You Smell Tomahto and I Smell…
When it comes to our own experience of smell (and, honestly, anything else), we are each truly unique snowflakes. These short excerpts don’t even comment on how our own unique experiences effect (and construct) our sense of smell (and memory, which is a critical component).
“Women (on average) detect odors at lower concentrations, are more likely to rate smells as more intense and unpleasant, and are better able to identify them by name.” (39)
“… everyone has about 350 olfactory receptors. They aren’t necessarily the same 350 receptors, providing a biological reason why two people will perceive a combination of odors, such as from a single hop variety, differently, or one of them might be altogether blind to a particular smell.” (39)
2. A Plant With a Past: How hops became basic ingredient in beer, and the varieties that emerged
“”Beer is a popular subject, and the literature abounds in unsupported statements, misleading or inaccurate quotes, and inadequate references.”1” Quoting D. Gay Wilson (45/61)
This could be said about any topic around beer, sadly.
“The genus Humulus likely originated in Mongolia at least six million years ago. A European type diverged from the Asian group more than one million years ago; a North American group migrated from the Asian continent approximately 500,000 years later. Five botanical varieties of lupulus exist: …” (46)
“Because the pollen from hops and hemp are identical, it is difficult to use archaeological evidence to distinguish between the cultivation of hops and the cultivation of hemp, leading to considerable confusion about where and when hops were grown.” (48)
Really, identical?! Can they be cross-pollinated? What results? Is there a difference in the result if use hemp versus marijuana? Intriguing questions.
Stephen Buhner believes it was primarily the Protestant Reformation and competing commercial interests that led to the change from gruit to hops. Gruit ale was “highly intoxicating–narcotic, aphrodisiacal, and psychotropic when consumed in sufficient quantity.” Hopped ale was “sedating and anaphrodesiacal.” (50)
Others believe differently. (51)
Religion is definitely a factor in many, many ways but there are also many other contributing factors.
We have an American Hop Museum in Toppenish, WA. (54)
§ ‘We Like the Hop That Grows on This Side of the Road’
“Hop geneticists call them landrace hops, implying that they reflect the area where they grow and adapted over time to that region. When breeders began to use cross-pollination to create new varieties they usually started from these genotypes because they had qualities brewers liked.” [Fuggle and Golding (England); Tettnanger, Spalter and Hallertauer Mittelfruh (Germany); Saaz (Bavaria/Czech Republic)] (58, emphasis mine)
Hops are very adaptable to location/climate. (61) Much like hemp.
3. A Plant With a Future: Aroma is in fashion, but hop breeders still abide by the rules of agronomics
“… most research is related to combatting new or old diseases, improving yield, making low-trellis systems viable, or other advances that serve growers.” (67-8)
USDA program began in Oregon in 1930 (70), prompted by the spread of powdery mildew at a time when Oregon grew 50% of US hops (76)
4. Growing Hops: You don’t meet many first-generation hop farmers
§ Location, Location, Location
§ Size Matters, But So Does Family
Small editing mishap: “… is 12 times larger the average German farm.” (102) Missing a “than.”
Trying to get a grasp on US hop production and especially PNW:
Large farms in the PNW; small almost every where else. (102-4)
“The largest grower in Washington, Roy Farms, produces more hops annually than all but six countries.” (104)
“In 2011 Washington farmers harvested 79.3 percent (by weight) of the hops grown in the United States, Oregon farmers 12.3 percent, and Idaho farmers 8.3 percent.” (107)
“Farmers in more than a dozen states outside the Northwest grew hops for commercial purposes in 2012.” (107)
Another small editing mishap: A citation to endnote 22 appears on p. 110 but it does not exist in Notes; last citation is 21.
5. Harvesting Hops: Where the violence of picking machines meets the quiet of the kiln
§ Turning Acres of Hops Into Bales
§ Rubbing and Sniffing
“Victory Brewing co-founder Ron Barchet travels to Germany every year to select hops. … Hop farmers in Tettnang grin in recognition when they hear his name.” Has long-term contracts and a very good hop nose. (122)
§ BO: A Brewer’s Guide to Evaluating and Selecting Hops (by John Harris) (123-9) – [an updated version of his 1999 Master Brewers Association of the Americas convention presentation]
§ Common Flaws in Hops
§ Hop Selection Team
§ The Brewer’s Cut
§ Hop Rubbing Descriptors
§ Hand Evaluation of Hops
§ Further Evaluation
§ Evaluating Pellets
§ A Checklist
6. The Hop Store: A variety of varieties come in a variety of forms
Larry Sidor (now of Crux and prev. Deschutes) – worked at Olympia; converted hops to pellets and is his “biggest regret in life.” Then worked at S.S. Steiner (as gen. manager) in the Yakima Valley before joining Deschutes. (131)
Sierra Nevada is the largest cone-only brewery in America (131)
§ Pelletizing and Pellet Products
§ Hop Extracts
Russian River uses extract for the bittering addition in Pliny the Elder, also uses varietal extracts in Blind Pig and Pliny the Younger. Lagunitas uses extract in a wide range of its beers. (134).
§ Advanced Hop Products
§ From Admiral to Zeus
an introduction to 105 varieties of hops in the pages that follow
Cites a p. xx under Storage, but there is no p. xx!
7. Hops in the Brewhouse: Perception matters: You can have your bitterness and smell the aroma, too
§ Alpha Acids and Beta Acids
Alpha acids – multiple alphas
humulone, cohumulone, and adhumulone (pre- and post-humulone occur in small amounts.
After isomerization by heat in solution they each occur in two forms, cis- and trans- (176-7)
Cohumulone and humulone levels vary between 20-50% in diff. species, adhumulone 10-15% (178)
§ The Bitterness Drift
Iso-alpha acids make the most contribution; importance of other elements varies greatly.
Highly roasted malts add bitterness.
Calcium sulfate gives a “crisper” hoppiness.
Calcium carbonate exhibits a coarser bitterness.
Lower temps suppress perception of bitterness.
Level of polyphenols affects perception of bitterness. (181)
People vary in their perception of bitterness as there are different receptors for different bitternesses. (181)
§ Understanding IBU and Calculating Utilization
Three main formulas for calculating utilization (185, Calculating IBUs callout)
“Brewers benefit from using the IBU as a tool in formulating recipes and maintaining a specific level of bitterness in regularly brewed beers, while recognizing that it does not perfectly reflect the quality of bitterness–which will be affected by various reaction processes as well as the composition of the bitter acids–or overall perception of bitterness.” (187)
“Bitterness units and the amount of iso-alpha acids are equivalent only in the range of 15 to 30 IBUs, and then only when working with relatively fresh hops.” (188)
As usual, our shorthand “measuring stick” is only accurate in a very narrow range for which it is used.
“And, again, recent research in Germany has shown perception of bitterness is not linear and reaches a point of saturation.” (188)
Utilization is affected by many variables – Form of hops, boiling time and vigor, kettle geometry, wort gravity, boiling temperature, pH and mineral content of water, composition of the humulones (188-9)
Bitterness levels will also drop by about 20% in fermentation (190)
§ Ready, Set, Start Adding Hops
First wort hopping (191-4, also earlier)
§ Post-Boil Hopping
8. Dry Hopping: Scores of methods exist, but the intent remains the same: Aroma impact
“Today the term dry hopping refers to the addition of hops in the fermentation vessel, in maturation vessels, or in casks.” (208)
§ The Universal Questions
§§ Residence Time and Number of Additions
§§ Fermenter Geometry
§ The Slurry Method
§ Hop Cannon
9. The Good, the Bad, and the Skunky: Taking responsibility for hop quality
§ Hop Quality Group: A Learning Process
§ Pellets: Easier to Store but Just as Fragile
§ Polyphenols and Phenols
“Malt furnishes approximately 70 percent of beer polyphenols, although the hop contribution may increase with the addition of lower alpha hops.” (231)
“Hop polyphenols enhance flavor stability because of their antioxidant properties, which suppress the formation of undesirable staling compounds. As any brewer making heavily dry-hopped beers may testify, they also provoke beer haze.” (232)
§ ‘Skunky’ by Any Other Name (‘Imported’) Is Still a Fault
§ Some Like Their Hops Slightly Aged, Some Quite Old
§ Dry Hopping and Flavor Stability
10. What Works: Theory aside, what matters is what ends up in the glass
“Tip: “It’s best to brew dark beer at night,” said Hlavsa, “Because that way the darkness gets into the beer.”” (261) [Comment from a Czech brewer.]
11. Epilogue: The future has already arrived, so what about the future?
This is an excellent addition to this series and is a superb book in its own right. Highly recommended to all beer lovers. I own this one and recommend you do to.