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Old 02-04-2013, 02:07 PM   #1
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Default Hops- Do they cover up flaws in brew process or final product?

By hops, I mean hop forward beer. I've been brewing close to a year now and made a number of styles... about half have been pale ales, ambers, IPAs or II IPAs. All have been excellent. My porters, stouts, Belgians, wheats... while mostly good, haven't blown me away. I do my own recipes for the most part, so it may just be that I know what I like in my IPAs and am more familiar brewing them. It could be the water. It could be that I get lucky. It could be that IPAs are an easy style to brew. I hope its not, but it could be the hops are covering up flaws in my recipes or brewing process.

Im at the point where I actually prefer my IPAs to the commercial versions out there. Maybe its because 90% of my beer consumption is now homebrew, i have just acquired a taste for my beer. I still love my Racer 5, Two Hearted, SNPA, but they really have been knocked down a notch. Even the case of Nugget Nectar I picked up just doesnt seem to be what is it once was... which sucks in a way, but at the same time validates my beer that much more.

Anyone out there with similar experiences?

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Old 02-04-2013, 02:41 PM   #2
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I do my own recipes for the most part, so it may just be that I know what I like in my IPAs and am more familiar brewing them.
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Maybe its because 90% of my beer consumption is now homebrew, i have just acquired a taste for my beer. I still love my Racer 5, Two Hearted, SNPA, but they really have been knocked down a notch. Even the case of Nugget Nectar I picked up just doesnt seem to be what is it once was... which sucks in a way, but at the same time validates my beer that much more.
Your palate is evolving and you know exactly what you enjoy. That is the answer. I wouldn't be surprised if you brew better tasting IPAs for your particular palate than most commercial entitities do. It happens to many of us.
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:58 PM   #3
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I agree thats the case in some instances, but even when im experimenting with different malts, yeasts or new hops I'm always happy with the results. Most of these are keg hoped beers, so the freshness of the hops/beer may play a large part in it and give my homebrew something the bottled versions are lacking. That brings me back to the original question... Do the hop's strong flavor, aroma, and/or bitterness help cover up other flaws that may be evident? Im looking for the answer not to toot my own horn, instead, to identify slight imperfections or shortcomings im some other styles that I cant quite put my finger on which are resulting in what are typically good but not great beer.

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Old 02-04-2013, 07:07 PM   #4
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I agree thats the case in some instances, but even when im experimenting with different malts, yeasts or new hops I'm always happy with the results. Most of these are keg hoped beers, so the freshness of the hops/beer may play a large part in it and give my homebrew something the bottled versions are lacking. That brings me back to the original question... Do the hop's strong flavor, aroma, and/or bitterness help cover up other flaws that may be evident? Im looking for the answer not to toot my own horn, instead, to identify slight imperfections or shortcomings im some other styles that I cant quite put my finger on which are resulting in what are typically good but not great beer.
Do you always use the same hops in a porter that you would use in an IPA? It could be your palette is particular to a certain hop profile. I've found this to be the case with me as I have brewed a couple of the same recipe, just with different hops. Beer A I loved, Beer B was OK, but just a beer. The only difference in the recipe, was the hops used.

Could be that your palette leans more bitter. The sweetness or chocolately notes you could get from a porter or stout may just not appeal to you. I guess to answer your question, could they hide flaws, yeah, it's very possible, but you could just be one of those people who really prefer a hopped up beer to a more malty one. The best brewery in the world could make you a porter and you may not like it as much as the IPA you have in your basement.
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:44 PM   #5
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That brings me back to the original question... Do the hop's strong flavor, aroma, and/or bitterness help cover up other flaws that may be evident? Im looking for the answer not to toot my own horn, instead, to identify slight imperfections or shortcomings im some other styles that I cant quite put my finger on which are resulting in what are typically good but not great beer.
It could be. Not from the grain really... but your water chemistry could be off and this might be more noticeable if you brew a low abv balanced ESB. I suggest that you do just that. Imperfections are better gauged with these types of beers.

I find that the prime cause in flavor defects is due to under or over -pitching yeast and improper times & temperatures.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:00 PM   #6
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No doubt my palate leans toward the hop forward beer and they are more sessionable for me, but I really do love a good porter. There are hops that I stay away from and I generally do hop my ipas with a different profile. Ive been bittering my english ales and some dark beers with nothern brewer. I don't think that's the issue, bit maybe I will give columbus or nugget a shot. They're a common bittering addition in my hop forward beers. I have the grain for an porter that a friend of mine brewed, which my wife and I both loved. That had NB in it. I like to do my own recipes but the porter was requested by my wife and should be a good experiment. Funny thing is my buddy has been brewing for 17 years and all but gave up on west coast IPAs and pale ales. After my first successfull all grain ipa and looking at his recipe, in my newbness I just told him he needed more hops. Now I'm thinking there might be something to that

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Old 02-04-2013, 08:22 PM   #7
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Maybe it's your water. The water chemistry that goes well with hoppy beers and the chemistry that goes well with malty beers are not the same.

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