Bittering hops explanation?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

seanppp

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Messages
344
Reaction score
12
I know what bittering hops are used for: bittering! And I know that different varieties of hops have their own flavor and aroma characteristics, but is there a difference when it comes to bittering hops? Is 1oz of a 10%AA hop the same as 2oz of a 5% hop? If the IBUs that they impart are identical, what other differences are there that one would consider when making a recipe?
 

DrunkleJon

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
Messages
8,187
Reaction score
2,568
Location
Alexandria
You will find hops advertised as Bittering, Flavor, and both due to them being better for specific things. You could use more of a lower AA hop to achieve the same bitterness, but some hops do not bitter as cleanly. Additionally if you can find some clean, high AA, bittering hops you can often save money buy using less of the high AA hop instead of multiple ounces of a lower AA multi use hop.
 

BigEd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2004
Messages
2,940
Reaction score
460
I know what bittering hops are used for: bittering! And I know that different varieties of hops have their own flavor and aroma characteristics, but is there a difference when it comes to bittering hops? Is 1oz of a 10%AA hop the same as 2oz of a 5% hop? If the IBUs that they impart are identical, what other differences are there that one would consider when making a recipe?
In spite of the sometimes seen conventional wisdom that "it doesn't matter what hops are used to bitter" I say it does. That thinking is based on the premise that bittering additions add no flavor. However, while a bittering addition my not add the same kind of flavor note as late additions there will be a flavor impact to the beer from the early hop addition. With that in mind my suggestion is to use a bittering hop either from the same family as the later hops in the beer or use one known for its neutral flavors as not to conflict with the flavoring hops in the beer.

To answer your percentage question, yes, 2 oz of 5% hops have the same bittering potential as 1 oz of 10% hops. Higher AA percentage hops have been bred for the most part to save money for large-scale brewers, not to impress homebrewers with double-digit AA numbers. You can take advantage of the cost savings as a homebrewer but on a much smaller scale. Personally, I'd rather spend an extra couple of bucks on another ounce of hops with better flavor but depending on your hop preferences and beer style the choice is yours. For extremely hoppy beers it is usually a good idea to at least blend in some high alpha hops to keep both cost and total hop mass down. With very large amounts of lower alpha hops for bittering you can run into some vegeatal/leafy flavors from the sheer amount of plant material in the beer.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,898
Reaction score
12,749
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
In spite of the sometimes seen conventional wisdom that "it doesn't matter what hops are used to bitter" I say it does. That thinking is based on the premise that bittering additions add no flavor. However, while a bittering addition my not add the same kind of flavor note as late additions there will be a flavor impact to the beer from the early hop addition. With that in mind my suggestion is to use a bittering hop either from the same family as the later hops in the beer or use one known for its neutral flavors as not to conflict with the flavoring hops in the beer.
I agree. 30 IBUs of hallertauer is NOT the same as 30 IBUs of columbus!

Overall, the amount of bitterness would be the same, but the quality of that bitterness will be impacted.

What I mean is, in a beer like a German pilsner, using chinook hops for bittering will give a harsher bitterness instead of a firm, smooth bitterness. I doubt you could taste it, and say "Oh, chinook was used for bittering!", but you will definitely note that noble hops were NOT used.

If you sub bittering hops in the same type/family, then you will not really notice that much of a difference, though.
 

ColumbusAmongus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2011
Messages
178
Reaction score
5
I wish this terminology would drop off the face of the planet. I think this is left over jibber jabber from the pre-chemical analysis days when IBUs didn't exist. Now we know the oil composition and can pick hops by analytical values rather than traditional knowledge of what variety makes more bitter beer.

Historically, old world brewers selected hops with lesser and softer bittering characteristics so you will find more noble hops under the category of aroma / flavor hops and, surprise, they have low alpha acids (in general).

By preference, we now like strong bitterness and strong hop flavor so most of our new hop varieties are being selected for both high alphas and strong flavor so I think that this idea of a bittering vs flavor/aroma category is dead. Now that we measure everything, you pick the right hops for the job based on numbers and flavors not because Granpa Floggleheimer said so.
 
OP
S

seanppp

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Messages
344
Reaction score
12
But when I say "bittering hops" I don't mean a species of hop but the hops that are added at the beginning of the boil for the sole purpose of bitterness. Simcoe has a wonderful flavor/aroma but if I boil it for 90 minutes I am *only* getting bitterness out of it. Or at least that was my question, is it only bitterness or is there a difference between the bitterness of Columbus and Hallertau?
 

beertroll

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
299
Reaction score
32
Location
Shaftsbury
I think Yooper nailed it. You'd get the same amount of bitterness from 2oz of 5%AA hops as 1oz of 10%AA hops, but the character will be different. Not everything in a 60 minute addition gets boiled off.

Isn't this where cohumulone comes into play?
 

Cyclman

I Sell Koalas
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Messages
7,618
Reaction score
1,356
Location
Aurora
Radical Brewing has a great discussion on this. Bittering hops aren't a formula, flavor is impacted too, as Yooper said.

Sometimes calculations and software neglect the main reason we brew- flavor. Noble hops, low AA, may cost more, but make a better beer than high AA hops which can be a harsher bitterness.
 

Latest posts

Top