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Hops

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A Walk Through A Brew

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Creating Your Own Recipes:

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The Importance of Keeping Notes

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Hops

Yeast

A Walk Through Creating An Original Recipe

Danger - Quicksand!

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On this page we'll see how to find out which types of hops to use and what sort of amounts we should be looking to toss in to our boiling pan.

You can buy hop essence, hop pellets and goodness knows what else, probably in a fancy bag too. Disregard these. We’re brewing great beer here so only go for vacuum packed hops. These come in three different types, which are bittering hops, dual purpose hops, and aroma hops. The very best beers are made wholly with aroma hops in my humble opinion, so I suggest you buy no other.

Each type of hop has its own distinctive character and there is a brilliant guide at http://www.murphyandson.co.uk/BrewingArticles/HopSpecs.htm

the female hop

For instance, when I formulated the recipe for ‘Brew A’ detailed in the ’A Walk Through A Brew’ page, I used three types of hops, Cascade, East Kent Goldings and Willamette. The guide at Murphys tells us the Cascade hops are very floral and spicy and give a very smooth bittering quality. East Kent Golding is also spicy and smooth, whereas Willamette has herbal and blackcurrant properties. Using a not very scientific approach at all, I hoped that a combination of all three of these types of hop would produce something original, fun and tasty. I kept the amounts of each hop more or less the same simply because I didn’t want any one type to dominate the recipe.

Having decided on which types of hop to use by reading what properties they would bring to your beer, figuring out how much of each type of hop to use requires a calculator and some free software called Promash. You can download it from http://www.promash.com/Software/eval.html and I strongly suggest you do, it’s a cracking piece of kit and you should devote some time to playing around with it and becoming familiar with what it can do.

We know how much bitterness we can get from our hops because if you look at the packet you’ll see a figure expressed as a percentage of Alpha Acid. This figure can change from one year to the next depending on the weather and conditions during the growing season so should not be taken as a constant - always refer to the packet.

When you feed in to Promash the Alpha Acid details you’ll notice a figure of IBU. This stands for International Bittering Units and this total figure determines how bitter your beer will be. The IBU scale is simply a measurement of the bitterness of beer. Apparently the most we can taste is about 80 IBUs but this would taste so awful I’ve never tried it! Brew A gives us a total IBU of about 44, which is how I like my bitter - comparatively heavily hopped.

ah, warm memories of the foreign beers stall, 2006 Derby Beer Festival!

Long boiling periods are necessary to extract the bittering acids from the hops, but this long boil destroys flavour and aroma characteristics of the hops. To put the flavour and aroma back in to the beer, we chuck some hops in to the mix 15 minutes from the end of the boil. I sometimes also chuck in more hops 5 minutes from the end, but this isn’t vital. As far as I or anyone I’ve read knows, there is no way to accurately measure the amount of aroma and flavour you’re adding by these ‘late additions’, so experiment! At the risk of sounding too technical... chuck a few grams in but not too much!.

There's more about considering the type and weights of hops to use in 'A Walk Through Creating An Original Recipe' - but before we get there, the next page looks at yeast...

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