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Old 11-25-2012, 06:32 PM   #1
othellomcbane
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Default Why not just add hops at end of boil for sours?

I was contemplating the whole relationship between hops and sour microbes in my head the other day, and the process Belgian brewers use with aged hops. I realized that there are still a few things I don't really understand.

From my understanding, the main issue with adding a bunch of hops to a sour beer is that bitterness and sourness do not taste good together. Makes sense. Plus, lacto and other friendly sour microbes don't like high IBUs. Okay. But here's where I realized there are some gaps in my knowledge.

Huge quantities of aged hops are added to lambic / geuze at the beginning of a long boil, but as these hops are aged, they do not contribute significant IBUs. So they do not act as preservatives against lacto / pedio, but apparently, they still act as preservatives to other nasty things floating around in the air. Seemingly lacto/pedio doesn't like the bitterness, but don't mind the hops themselves.

It's basically accepted that we homebrewers don't need to add huge quantities of aged hops when brewing sour beer so long as we're directly inoculating the wort and not leaving it out for spontaneous fermentation. We're already "infecting" our beer and don't need the boost of extra protection. So here is my main question: why go out of your way to add a carefully calibrated amount of low AA hops at the beginning of the boil? Why not add an ounce of flavorful hops near the end of the boil, when they'll contribute (if anything), some fruity flavor, but no worrysome bitterness?

Thoughts? Am I missing anything?



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Old 11-26-2012, 01:30 AM   #2
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Hop flavor and aroma isn't a component of most traditional sour beers. Also, you need the long boil for the antibacterial constituents of hops to take affect.



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Old 11-26-2012, 03:31 AM   #3
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You still want to isomerize the acids but with aged hops you're mostly getting beta acids rather than alpha acids. That still takes some time boiling that throwing in knockout hops doesn't get you.

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Old 11-26-2012, 01:00 PM   #4
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" I have not found aged hops to be a necessity for any sour beers including inoculated-lambics. Since you are adding the microbes yourself you do not need to worry about protecting the beer from wild invaders as lambic brewers must when they are slowly cooling their wort in a coolship, exposed to the microbe-laden air. If you are looking to do a spontaneous/ambient fermentation then aging hops is something you should look into (several years before brewing...)."
http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2009/11/brewing-sour-beer-at-home.html?m=1
----

From themadfermentationist.com blog. The author also had a piece in a BYO last fall that explained why you generally dont need aged hops in even more detail. Note, spontaneous fermentation is the exception to this.

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Old 11-26-2012, 01:12 PM   #5
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Good question.... I read "Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian" by Phil Markowski and he describes using old hops but I do not remember why they did this...

The idea above that "aged hops you're mostly getting beta acids" makes sense but I would like to find a reference...

From what I remember, and will have to double check, is that these went in at the boil so you are not going to get any "spontaneous/ambient fermentation"

BUT

I will have to check this also...

I tried many sour beers on Friday night at the GABF and found my favorite ones were Berliner-Weises... I think many of the others tasted "thin" and I would probably mix them in with another beer, beer cocktail, if I was going to drink them.

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Old 11-26-2012, 06:13 PM   #6
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The point about beta acids I believe is in Wild Brews. Anyway, I do agree if you are using domesticated beer bacteria you don't need aged hops. I just use a small bittering charge at the beginning of the boil to get around 8 IBU for all my sours. I do have legitimately wild beers and do the same thing. No problem using fresh hops over aged hops.

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Old 11-26-2012, 11:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReverseApacheMaster View Post
The point about beta acids I believe is in Wild Brews. Anyway, I do agree if you are using domesticated beer bacteria you don't need aged hops. I just use a small bittering charge at the beginning of the boil to get around 8 IBU for all my sours. I do have legitimately wild beers and do the same thing. No problem using fresh hops over aged hops.
Okay, the thing about the beta acids is the sort of answer I was looking for. That makes sense, and I understand that we homebrewers don't really need to use aged hops if we're pitching bugs and yeast (as other people pointed out in response).

And yes, "flavor hop" additions aren't traditional, but I don't like doing something only because it's traditional. Take New Belgium's La Terrior, which is a dry-hopped sour. It's great. And if we're only hopping to 8-10 IBUs anyway, I don't think those preservative properties are vitally important... we're intentionally infecting the beer. I don't think late-hop additions will ruin a sour beer, which says to me that I should experiment with that as an option.
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:40 AM   #8
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I agree, I was just answering why most brewers/home brewers don't do large late additions when brewing wild beer. Also, over the long aging process, you won't be left with much hop flavor and aromatics anyways.

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Old 11-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by othellomcbane View Post
Take New Belgium's La Terrior, which is a dry-hopped sour. It's great. And if we're only hopping to 8-10 IBUs anyway, I don't think those preservative properties are vitally important... we're intentionally infecting the beer. I don't think late-hop additions will ruin a sour beer, which says to me that I should experiment with that as an option.
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Also, over the long aging process, you won't be left with much hop flavor and aromatics anyways.
This. You certainly could add late-boil hops, but you'd be better off doing a fresh dry-hop at the end of a long aging period.
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spenghali View Post
I agree, I was just answering why most brewers/home brewers don't do large late additions when brewing wild beer. Also, over the long aging process, you won't be left with much hop flavor and aromatics anyways.
Yeah, for sure. I guess I didn't necessarily mean adding a large late hop addition — but if you have a random, spare ounce of hops sitting around, you can throw that in at the end of boil without having to worry about getting your IBUs too high, or having an extra 0.6 ounce pack of hops open in your freezer.


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