Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Hops – a climbing plant that is used for flavoring and preservation of beer.  There are many varieties of hops and they are grown in many parts of the world.  Hops add bitterness to beer that is used to balance the sweetness of the malt, or to increase the bitterness and associated aromas for “Hop Heads” – people who love a beer that is strong in hops.  A good example of hops use is in India Pale Ale.  When British brewers first sent beer to soldiers in India, the beer spoiled during the route.  India Pale Ale had higher alcohol and hops that prevented the beer from spoiling.  Over time, the IPA also became very popular locally.

American craft brewers are known for the use of hops that result in some IPAs with high IBU – International Bitterness Units.  A lager may have very little IBUs (example – 5) and an IPA may have over 100.  Some brewers mix hops to impart different aromas.  There are essentially two types of hops – bittering and aromatic – that are used by the brewer to develop the final taste and aroma of the beer. The beer will also smell and taste differently depending on the temperature of the beer.  Germany leads the world in growing hops followed by the U.S.  Hops growers in the U.S. are primarily in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  Hops do grow in Colorado and wild varieties can be harvested.

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