What Are Hops?

For people who want to begin brewing, it is important to understand the main components of beer and how it is made.

What Are Hops?

An ingredient that you may have heard of when drinking beer is hops.

Hops are prominent in brewing beer and using different hops can allow you to add flavor to your beer, but what are they?

If you are unfamiliar with what hops are, this article will help you to understand what hops are and how they are used in brewing.

Knowing the differences between hops and how they can influence the taste of your beer is important for creating a distinctive tasting beer. 

This article will help you understand what hops are used for and what exactly they are.

If you want to amaze people with your beer tasting knowledge, this article will inform you of everything that you need to know to sound like a hops expert at your next pub night!

What Exactly Are Hops?

Hops are small flowers that are shaped like a cone. They can be found on the hop plant, which is known by the name Humulus Lupulus.

The main reason that hops are used in beer is that they contain alpha acids.

Alpha acids help to balance the bitterness and sweetness of the beer to make sure that the taste isn’t too overpowering by being either too bitter or too sweet. 

The use of hops allows brewers to develop a signature flavor for their beer to make them more identifiable as they give beers distinctive aromas and tastes.

There are many varieties of hops available, so you can choose one that suits your personal preference. You can also combine two or more types of hops to create a new flavor profile.

Are There Different Types Of Hops?

There are lots of different types of hops that can be used in brewing as there are lots of strains and hops grown in a variety of regions.

Different hops are grown in different regions as Noble hops are grown in Germany and Czech Republic, American hops are grown in the US, and English hops are grown in England. 

The main reason that the hop strains differentiate from each other is due to the levels of essential oils and alpha acids that are found in each one.

You need to decide which hops to use based on how you want your beer to taste.

Hops that have high levels of essential oils create a stronger aroma and flavor in the beer.

Whereas hops that have high levels of alpha acids tend to create a sharper taste to the beer that can be quite bitter.

Certain hop strains have levels of both essential oils and alpha acids that create a combination of both aroma, flavor, and sharpness. 

How Are Hops Used In Beer?

How Are Hops Used In Beer?

Hops can be used in a variety of ways by brewers and different styles of beer will have different levels of hops present.

In stouts, hops are not relied on to provide aroma or taste.

Most of the taste in stout comes from the grain bill that is used to brew the beer, and while hops are still used, they are used to enhance the present flavor instead of overpowering it. 

In IPAs, the flavor of the beer comes from the use of hops. If you are looking to try a beer that isn’t as bitter as usual, IPAs have a strong aroma and taste that has been produced by using hops, so you can choose a beer with a less bitter taste and more flavor. 

How To Tell The Difference Between Different Hops

As there are different varieties of hops, you may be wondering how you tell the difference between them.

To do so, you can purchase small amounts of different hops online so you can tell the difference between their scents and flavors.

This way, you can find out what type of hops works best for you and begin to see how the hops differentiate from each other. 

You can also tell the difference between different hops by finding out what hops are used in the beers that you drink.

You can find this information on the back of a beer bottle or beer can, and this will allow you to see how the hops are different and decide which hops you prefer. 

Difference Between The Hops

If you want to know more about the different varieties of hops, find out more about the hops from different regions here!

American Hops

American hops are popular for the strong aroma that they add to beer.

The hops have high levels of myrcene, an essential oil, so the beer tends to be less bitter than other varieties of beer that do not use hops at the forefront of their flavor profile.

The myrcene gives the beer a citrus flavor with hints of pine, making it a popular and refreshing beer when these hops are used. 

Noble Hops

Noble hops tend to be used in classic lagers and are very identifiable in German and Czech beers.

The hops have high levels of humulene, an essential oil, so the beer is nicely flavored and has a strong aroma to accompany the taste.

There are low levels of alpha acid in the hops which means that the beer isn’t as bitter as some other varieties.

English Hops

English hops add a delicate flavor to the beer as they add undertones of herbs and spices to the flavor profile.

The hops include other essential oils, but do not have high levels of myrcene, meaning that it allows other essential oils to contribute to the flavor and not be overpowered by citrus.

These hops are milder in flavor but add aromatic undertones. 

Final Thoughts

To conclude, hops are crucial to include in your beer to balance the sweetness and bitterness of the beer to make sure that neither taste is too overpowering.

You can learn the difference between the different varieties of hops by reading beer labels and analyzing small amounts of hops that you can order from the internet. 

Having hops that are high in essential oils means that there will be a stronger aroma and flavor to the beer, whereas high levels of alpha acid in the hops will create a more bitter-tasting beer.

You can start to identify your favorite hops by trying different beers that use different hops and choosing the hops that you like best.

Andrew Carr
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