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Bittering hops: does the type matter?

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robertjohnson

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I know all hops are different but if I'm boiling the crap out of them for 60 minutes, then won't these differences be all but invisible to an ordinary palatte? (That's a shout-out to the mutants around here.) I have a formula for calculating IBUs with a hop utilization chart courtesy of Papazian, so the target IBUs should be about right. I'd just like to use any old high AA hop for bittering and save my Kent Goldings or whatever for later additions where I feel it'll make the most difference. So there's no confusion...will completely changing the type of bittering hops alter the flavor much provided I still hit my target IBUs?

Thanks in advance for any responses. :mug:
 

uwmgdman

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For the most part no, it doesn't matter for a 60+ minute addition.

Now if the recipe calls for a lot of IBUs from a very low alpha hop and you use a very small amount of a very high alpha hop, there will likely be some noticeable differences (and vice versa). But it would have to be a lot of IBUs from those additions.

But largely I think you're fine substituting.

One exception to this is the Chinook hop, I find that hop gives the beer a certain flavor/bittering quality that is distinguishable from any other, other people may agree or disagree or have a hop they feel similar about.

One thing to consider with your hops, is you say some old high AA hops. If they're real old, you may consider using a bit more since the bittering power can deteriorate with time.
 

QueenCityALER

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I usually try to bitter with hops to the style I'm trying to make. This is a loose rule as I like to substitute as well. I think you're fine playing mix and match. Heck, you may stumble on to a great combo that you really like.
 

nutcase

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the theory as I understand it is that different hops have different cohumulun levels which contribute to the perceived bitterness (ie., a lower cohumulon hop like horizon will be less in your face bitter than a higher cohumulun like chinook even though the actual IBU's may end up the same). I'm not sure how perceivable the difference is though
 

Brocster

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I do believe it matters, and it depends on what you are doing. A longer boil will affect the IBU's, in essence increasing them. Still, different hops have different Alpha Units, so a similar qty of Hops, say Fuggles, will have a different impact on your beer than Columbia or Kent Goldings when boiled for the same period.

Outside of the desire or need to match a particular style, it is good to know what IBU or Bittering Units/Gravity Units ratio you need. This ratio does not include aroma hops.

For example, if you want to have a IBU of 50, 1 ounce of East Kent Goldings boiled for 60 mintutes will add around 15 BU's to your brew, where Columbus might add a whopping 45 BU's.

There are a number of good sources out there that dive into this content. Let me know if you have any quetions around this and I would be more than glad to help.

Cheers!
 

Brocster

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Ummm.......I realize I did not answer the real question you had, sorry about that....Idiot that I am!!!!! At least that is what my wife says...

:cross:

Anyways...... I do think the hop selction matters, especially on long boils, even for "normal" pallets. While the IBU's might be the same, the characteristics will be really different. A good example would be alcoholic spirits. The proof might be the same, but the taste is very different (think Brandy versus Scotch). Ok, not the greatest comparison...but I do think it matters.

The writeups on this can get a little overwhelming, but the taste differences seem to either go to the "piney" spectrum, like Chinook, or to a more "fruity" spectrum, like some of the more noble hops.

I would do some quick 10 minute research on the topic and find 3 types of bittering hops you like in the same spectrum, then sub these at will. Glacier, Fuggles, Bullion and Brewers Gold are all solid choices.

Hope that is a little more in line with what you were asking. I am on vacation and nursing a Barley Wine headache...so I might not even know what I am writing!


Cheers!:mug:
 

GilaMinumBeer

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I say no based on my own experience. And my theory is supported by common talk about Noble varieties imparting a smoother bittering.

I have not yet studied or become knowledgeable about the hop compounds to understand the bitter truth but I do know that the Myrcene in Beta Acids has some interplay.

FWIW, IMO, CHinook is great hop but not a great bittering hop despite it's alpha potential. Too harsh even in low sulphate water. But, I have also found this to be true of some of the moderate and low Alpha hops.

I really wish I had taken some basic chemistry in school.
 

HotbreakHotel

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If I brew a low IBU style like Hefeweizen, for example, I might substitute another low alpha for Hallertau, but it's gotta be another really mild hop. The style is very sensitive to bitterness

Likewise, if I'm making an American IPA, I'm not going to substitute a large amount of Goldings for a smaller amount of Centennial, but I'll gladly substitute another strong hop like Columbus or Chinook.

IMO I ruined a dark Belgian Abbey ale during the peak of the hop crunch by substituting a small amount of a stronger hop for a larger amount of the one I was supposed to be using. I ended up with a lingering bitterness that had no business being there, even though I did this only for the 60 minute addition.

The longer you boil, the more difficult it is discern the difference between hop varieties, but IMHO it is wise to stick with similar varieties and follow the hop substitution tables even for the 60 min additions.
 
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robertjohnson

robertjohnson

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Hey thanks again for the replies, even if some of you have even discussed this before. For some reason the search function didn't pull those threads up for me before, but I'm linking them here.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/bittering-hops-63909/
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/how-much-does-bittering-hop-matter-52004/

Here's the references on hops substitutions
KotMF: Hop Comparison Chart
Homebrewing 202: Hop Selection and [email protected]

After reading up a bit more, it seems like it really depends on the hops being substituted. For the most part it shouldn't be too problematic, but I'm a little more wary about just basing my bittering substitutions on IBU calculations that solely deal with AA content. There's more to IBUs than just AA, even if lots of the volatile compounds that contribute to aroma and flavor do get boiled off when used for bittering. It seems to have to do with different levels of cohumulone in the varieties, which is another component in hops that has a special impact on IBUs. For this reason, a high AA hops like Simcoe would contribute far less bitterness than a high AA hops like Magnum or Northern Brewer. So IN CONCLUSION, if you're going to substitute hops, even if only for bittering and even if you're calculating IBUs, it's still important to refer to substitution tables. And then it comes to the most important and pleasurable part for which we all brew...the tasting.
 
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The only thing that should make the difference is the cohumulone levels, which cause a harsher bitterness. All flavoring acids will have been boiled off.

I've used Columbus (low cohumulone but high IBU) as bittering in a Czech pilsner and noticed no difference in taste when compared to using a crap load of saaz as bittering. I did notice a harsher "scraping" bitterness when using bullion (higher cohumulone levels).

If you first wort hop though, you should notice flavor even after a long boil.
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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If you are using them as a First Wort Hop addition then it matters quite a bit. You'll get a TON of hop aroma and flavor from a FWH addition, so as you might imagine you have to be careful what type you use. But for your standard 60 minute addition in the boil, it doesn't matter at least in my limited experience.
 

DeathBrewer

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The only thing that should make the difference is the cohumulone levels, which cause a harsher bitterness. All flavoring acids will have been boiled off.

I've used Columbus (low cohumulone but high IBU) as bittering in a Czech pilsner and noticed no difference in taste when compared to using a crap load of saaz as bittering. I did notice a harsher "scraping" bitterness when using bullion (higher cohumulone levels).

If you first wort hop though, you should notice flavor even after a long boil.
As an example, I've used sorachi ace only for bittering during a 60 minute boil and there was still an extreme amount of lemony flavor in the beer.

Also, If you make two hefeweizens and use fuggle for bittering one and hallertau for the other, with the same cohumulone levels, they will come out different.

There are flavors imparted...the cohumulone levels alone are not the only things to consider. Again, similar hops or styles of hops will make suitable substitutions, but the proper hop for the right style of brew is what you want to look into.
 
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As an example, I've used sorachi ace only for bittering during a 60 minute boil and there was still an extreme amount of lemony flavor in the beer.

Also, If you make two hefeweizens and use fuggle for bittering one and hallertau for the other, with the same cohumulone levels, they will come out different.

There are flavors imparted...the cohumulone levels alone are not the only things to consider. Again, similar hops or styles of hops will make suitable substitutions, but the proper hop for the right style of brew is what you want to look into.
That has not been my expericnce (and a former Labbats brewmaster/chemist with 30 years experience agrees with me).

Death. When are you adding your boil hops? After the boil gets vigorus? If you add the hops before the boil is fully going then you may be getting some FWH like action happening.
 

DeathBrewer

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I wait until after the hot break settles, sometimes boiling off for 20-30 minutes before adding my hops (if my volume needs to get down.)

I have never done FWH, but I am aware of the flavor they impart, as my brew buddy has made some fantastic IPAs and PAs using that method recently. I'm actually a huge fan, as I'm not a big PA drinker, but the hop flavor is so clean and balanced that I gulp those right down.

It can indeed become harsh if boiled too long, and the cohumulone levels make a huge difference in flavor and in the longevity of the bitterness, but the cohumulone is not the only thing in hops that imparts flavor.

I'm not a chemist, but my basic understanding is that the longer you boil, the more boils off...first aroma, then flavor, and then bitterness will get more harsh with time.

However, the bitterness is still a flavor and different hops will have different effects. Brewing an average of 2-3 times a week for the last 4 years, I can definitely tell you that I can taste the difference between flavors of bittering hops. I can taste northern brewer when used as a bittering hop, any time. I also make many beers with only bittering additions (I do wheat beers about once a week) and there is always a discernable difference in flavor depending on the hops.
 

notwoohoo

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It absolutely matters, different hops have different levels of alpha acids (humulene, cohomulone, adhomulone). These aplha acids undergo isomerisation during the boil and are in solution for the product.
 

Malticulous

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If all the flavors were boiled of in 60 minutes even a FWH would not matter. FWH do give flavor. I believe I can taste the bittering hops too. In beers with a lot of hop flavor it probably doesn't matter as much as a Hefe or light lager.
 
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If all the flavors were boiled of in 60 minutes even a FWH would not matter. FWH do give flavor. I believe I can taste the bittering hops too. In beers with a lot of hop flavor it probably doesn't matter as much as a Hefe or light lager.

FWH acts in a different manner. The thought is that it's linked to oxidation of the flavor acids (beta) and the resulting compunds do not boil off.
 

DeathBrewer

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Definitely an entirely different flavor from FWH and mash hopping...and it predominantly adds flavor, not bitterness. Don't know how it works, I'm not a chemist, but I highly recommend it. The effects from it that I've experienced were wonderful.
 

Malticulous

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I don't think anyone understands FWH. I think it was Denny Conn that said to treat them as a 20 minute addition and I think he's right. AFAIK, FWIW, if a 60 minute boil was going to loose all flavor compounds the FWH simply would not work. Some flavor from any addition will remain.
 

barely

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As an example, I've used sorachi ace only for bittering during a 60 minute boil and there was still an extreme amount of lemony flavor in the beer.

.....
Must agree with DB (he has a scary avatar!) Seriously though, I'd love to use the Alpha Acids of my Sorachi Ace, if only for boiling...but the flavor (lemon rind) has always come through. OK, Sorachi may be an extreme case, but it does show that there is indeed some flavor from bittering additions. In general, using an expected hop (English hop in English style) lessens the...<surprise/ unexpectedness / weirdness>. On that note, I have been know to add some surprise/ weirdness to my beers.:fro:
 

DeathBrewer

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Sorachi is definitely an extreme example and it would be more difficult to discern the difference between hops of similar styles.

Examples:
Fuggle/EKG/Willamette
Tettnanger/Hallertau/Mt. Hood
Northern Brewer/German Select

Etc.
 

Brocster

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Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels has a nice section on this topic. I just got through the book and really liked it - ie. it helped my helpless self!
 
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