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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Why not high alpha hops for bittering all the time?

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Old 07-15-2008, 06:06 PM   #11
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bokonon is right on. It's all about the level of error or control precision you need out of the hops.

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Old 07-15-2008, 06:10 PM   #12
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I made the mistake of throwing in a lot of Bravo 13.5% just to get my IBU's up there really quick and so I wouldnt have to use a lot of them, then added my aroma hops at the end. Although this made a good beer, it was pretty bitter when it was young. The longer I let it sit though, the better it gets.

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Old 07-15-2008, 06:19 PM   #13
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Very generally, there's nothing wrong with minimizing the bittering hop quantity by using high AA hops. However, the long answer may be fairly complex.

Consider the same question in the context of malt: "why not chocolate malt for color and roasted flavor all the time?" While it's certainly possible to achieve a wide variety of color and flavor solely with 2-row and chocolate malt, you'd be missing out on a lot of flavor, color, and body components available through other grains.

To a lesser degree, the same is true with (bittering) hops. The most obvious example that comes to mind is to compare two hypothetical IPA recipes that are identical in volume, grain bill, mash schedule, boil length, and IBUs. One recipe would use a single high AA bittering addition at 60 minutes followed by a hefty dose of flavoring hops at flameout. The other recipe holds off on the hops until the final 20 minutes of the boil, loading them into the kettle in fairly large quantities in an almost constant stream from 20 minutes until flameout to achieve both flavor and bittering components. Beer #1 (with the high AA addition) will likely have a more assertive bitterness with a lot of grassy flavors, while Beer #2 will have a smoother bitter character and a ton of hop flavor complexity. While this is an extreme example, it should be fairly clear that the high AA bittering technique, while excellent in times of hop crisis, is not necessarily the panacea of hop bittering techniques.

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Old 07-15-2008, 06:25 PM   #14
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Bokonon is right, but so is...

Quote:
Originally Posted by GilaMinumBeer View Post
IMO, it all depends on the bittering you are looking for (and your water). Meaning, sometimes high alpha hops can contribute a harsh, sometimes unpalateable bittering. And, if your water is high in Sulfate (and you don't amend) that harshness can be exaggerated. For example, IMO, Chinook is a great hop but, in high sulfate waters it's a horrible bitter.
True, true, and true again. The same recipe, made with the exact same ingredients, can be way out of whack if the water isn't right for high-alpha hops. Magnum and Target can do that easily.

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( cue milwaukee's best bitter beer face).


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Old 07-15-2008, 06:33 PM   #15
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I have been doing this for the most part as well. The only time I would avoid doing this is when you are brewing a beer that only has a bittering addition. While most of the hop flavor gets boiled off after 60 minutes, some will remain, and without late additions, you will have a little hop flavor coming through from the bittering addition.

For example, on an oatmeal stout I made a couple months back I added almost 2.5oz of EKG at 60 minutes. Even though it was not strong, I could taste a distinct hop flavor in the finished beer which is not out of place and was quite nice. If I had used a high alpha, citrusy hop, any flavor contributions from that would have been out of place and detracted from the overall beer.

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Old 07-15-2008, 11:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradsul View Post
That's what I do now. I use Galena as it's the highest alpha acid hop I can get and it's got a nice neutral flavour. The only exception is when I'm first wort hopping, then I'll use the hop I feel is appropriate for the recipe.
+1 on Galena. I brewed a Belgian Pale Ale with Styrian Goldings that were 2.9% AA, so I tossed in 1/3 ounce of Galena @60 to get the IBUs up where I wanted 'em. Absolutely, positively can't tell the difference in the beer. Next time I'm at Austin Homebrew I will have to remember to pick up some more for adjusting alpha acids in future batches. A single ounce lasted me for three batches.

- Eric
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