Hop to It!

Get the lowdown on all things hoppy! From hop styles to higher IBU’s, hops are the essence of beer and brewing.

So what is it? Besides being the magical ingredient behind any delicious noteworthy beer, hops is one of the four key ingredients along sides, barley, yeast, and of course water. ‘Hops’ usually associated with the bitterness or IBU (International Bitterness Units, more on this later) of beer are actually cone shaped flowers from the female hops plant. On a more technical level hops derive from the Humulus lupulus, a cousin of marijuana, Cannabaceae, without the THC. Hops contain oils and alpha acids that impart a level of bitterness, smell, clarity, and stability to the end product.

Get to know your hops:

Just how many varietals of hops are there? Well, one might say that there are around 80 different hops varieties but because they are always being grafted and developed, the list continues to grow. One way to break it down is to categorize hops into three main categories: aroma, bittering and dual.

  1. Aroma Hops: are prized for their ability to enhance the flavor and aroma of a beer. They typically provide less bitterness than other varieties but contain the essential oils that provide citrus, piney, resinous, or fruity flavors.  
  2. Bitter hops: like the name, bitter hops enhance the bitterness/IBU level of a beer due to its recognizably high levels of alpha acid.  
  3. Dual hops: encompasses both aromatic and bitterness qualities making it an optimal choice for homegrown hops.

IBU (International bitterness unit) = 1 mg/L (1 ppm) alpha acid in beer. It’s the standard reference for how bitter a beer is throughout the world. Note that it has no impact on the flavor or aroma of a beer, just the bitter flavor.

How are they used? 

Bittering hops also referred to as kettle hops, are high in acids and are typically added to the start of the boiling process. Aroma hops also known as finishing hops are added at the end of the boil for a short 15 minutes or less. By adding the different hops at different times during the brewing process, the more complex the body of the beer becomes in terms of taste, aroma, hop bitterness and balance.

Hops you should know:

American hops are valued worldwide for being bold and very aromatic. Ranging from intense woodsy, pine, floral, and stone fruit aromas, US hops have a variety of complex characteristics.

Here are few varietals to take note of:

Cascade: Responsible for starting the American craft beer revolution, this famous hop is recognized primarily for its strong grapefruit (rind) flavor profile, accentuating the refreshing bitterness of the finished product.

Centennial: Like the cascades big brother, this hops has a similar grapefruit profile, however, is balanced with more floral aromas.

Citra: In close relation with its name, this hop is all about packing a citrusy punch. Common aromas also include peach, mango, pineapple and other tropical fruits.

Mosaic: A relatively new addition to the world of hops, released in 2012, it has quickly become a brewer’s favorite. With an alpha acid content, this hops translate well into a variety of beer styles and can often be described as having pungent piney and fruity notes.

Brews News

Did someone say IPA? How about a Triple IPA? Yes you heard right. Old Redwood Brewing Company just brought back an all time fan favorite the Full Windsor, a Triple IPA. It can’t get any more hoppy than that! Brewed with Centennial, Citra, Calypso and Mosaic hops, this straw colored ale is packed with tropical and citrus notes. Balancing this hoppy goodness, crystal and aromatic malts were used to add a bit of sweetness to the body, but make no mistake this is one hoppy boozy beer.

A tip from the brewmaster himself: Pair The Full Windsor with smoked Brisket, Chicken fried steak, Blue cheese, or a creme brulee.

Also in the news, grapes aren’t the only thing growing at Fritz Underground Winery; take a look at these estate grown hops. Taking full advantage of the perfect terroir, Fritz Underground Winery and Old Redwood Brewing Company agrees that when it comes to homegrown hops, it’s the family effort that counts.

Join the Old Redwood Brewing Beer Club for more brews news! Plus get access to free tastings, club events, VIP discounts and happy hour prices all day every day.

Kari Jensen