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Ever made 'beer' with out hops?

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syd138

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I know its not technically beer if it doesn't have hops, but has anyone brewed with out them?

How would this effect the taste of something like a weissbier if you didn't have the hops?
 

snailsongs

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Considering that a beer like a dopplebock is almost sickly sweet even with some bittering hops, I'd think that it would bepretty nasty and cloyingly sweet.
 

McGarnigle

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I don't know if it's technically not beer without hops. Heather Ales makes some historical beers that have no hops (Alba Scots Pine uses spruce shoots instead).
 

pompeiisneaks

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From some history on beer making I've read, using Hops is a more recent thing. They did for some time use other plants like mentioned by McGarnigle, and before that they didn't even use anything but the malted grains. The advent of the additives like hops was to preserve the beer longer. From what I recall. I hope that's all technically correct. If not I'm in the ballpark :)
 

beerthirty

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Beer without hops? Shame on you. The reasons why hops are used is bittering balance, flavor enhancement and antiseptic qualities. Beers in recent history that were brewed without hops was due to the local scarcity of this wonderful and magical plant.
 

Deacon240

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The local 'microbrew' where I live (it's in quotations because their beer is more bmc like) makes a beer without hops, it tastes like bud lite with sugar added.
 

Deacon240

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But see, I don't like that. I am an anti-hophead. I hate the bitter taste of hops.. but I love the sweat-malty taste of barley
If you dont want something overly bitter use hops that have a low acidity. If you did something like .25oz of Cascade hops for 60min and .25oz at 5 min and .5oz at 2 min you'd get a lot less of the bitterness from them and more of their aroma/flavor. That'd give you around 9-10 IBU, which is not much. Personally I love the smell and flavor that Cascade hops have...
 

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But see, I don't like that. I am an anti-hophead. I hate the bitter taste of hops.. but I love the sweat-malty taste of barley
You obviously haven't had a beer that by design is low in IBU. Being a hop head means you tend to like styles that are over the top bitter like IPAs.

A beer with no hops at all is an undrinkable beer by anyone's standards.

How about an American Blonde bittered to 16 IBU or a Beligian Wit bittered to 12 IBU? That's where you're at.
 

flyangler18

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As beerthirty indicated, you need a touch of hop bitterness to off-set the malt sweetness and ultimately balanced the beer. There are many styles that, even if they have a moderately high hop bitterness, still tend more towards the malty side of things. An ESB can be 45+ IBU, right at the same level of bitterness as a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but still have lots of residual sugars and a caramel-toffee note. Dry beers emphasize bitterness.

IBUs at 10-12 are almost out of the range where you can even taste bitterness; as an example, my Berliner Weisse is a mere 4 IBUs with all of the flavor coming from lactobacillus.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Perhaps Malto Goya with a shot of vodka would be more up your ally.... as for beer, it needs hops. Your can make a gruit with other compounds to balance the malts, but otherwise you've got some nasty beverage on your hands.

Maybe country wines or ciders would be a better choice.
 

Revvy

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Not using hops or any preservative will give you a shelf life of maybe not even the entire fermentation process before it will start to sour, or maybe a little longer, but not much...if you've ever made a yeast starter, and tasted it often it will taste like crap...that's why many people add a hop pellet or two to it, so it doesn't go bad...

If you wanna get an idea of why you need some hops as a preservative watching the basicbrewing videos will give you an idea.

May 15, 2008 - Base Malt Experiment
We get unexpected results when we compare unhopped beers made with three different base malts.
Streaming mp4

May 27, 2008 - Base Malt Experiment II
Our Base Malt Experiment continues as we compare beer with and wtihout hops.
Streaming mp4

Basic Brewing Video Page
If you want to design a beer with low bitterness and nice malt, using this chart will help..Construct your recipe with the OG and the IBU's and tailer them to fit in the malty range....

 

alpo

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Have you ever tasted a yeast starter beer? That's pretty much it. Flat, bland and sweet. Not terrible. Not good either.
 

Bob

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Oh, I dunno. Different tastes, and all that.

Seems to me that nigh unto 6,000 years (arguably) can't be all wrong. It was only about 600 years ago that hops became the dominant herb in brewing, and unhopped - and un-gruited (?) - ales were the norm.

Consumed at the tail end of the ferment, medieval ales are not bad. They're certainly not cloyingly sweet. Don't believe me? Try a one-gallon experiment.

15% barley malt
15% wheat malt
70% oat malt

Shoot for an OG of ~1.060. Ferment with a fruity ale yeast. Drink just as the ferment ends.

You'll be drinking what we know the monks who ran St Paul's cathedral in London drank close to 1000 gallons of in 1286AD.

It isn't that malt beverages without hops are nasty. It's that they're different.

Bob
 

Revvy

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Oh, I dunno. Different tastes, and all that.

Seems to me that nigh unto 6,000 years (arguably) can't be all wrong. It was only about 600 years ago that hops became the dominant herb in brewing, and unhopped - and un-gruited (?) - ales were the norm.

Consumed at the tail end of the ferment, medieval ales are not bad. They're certainly not cloyingly sweet. Don't believe me? Try a one-gallon experiment.

15% barley malt
15% wheat malt
70% oat malt

Shoot for an OG of ~1.060. Ferment with a fruity ale yeast. Drink just as the ferment ends.

You'll be drinking what we know the monks who ran St Paul's cathedral in London drank close to 1000 gallons of in 1286AD.

It isn't that malt beverages without hops are nasty. It's that they're different.

Bob
Yeah but the tail end of ferment was only a few days, right?

They would have turned really fast wouldn't they?
 

flyangler18

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Consumed at the tail end of the ferment, medieval ales are not bad. They're certainly not cloyingly sweet. Don't believe me? Try a one-gallon experiment.

15% barley malt
15% wheat malt
70% oat malt

Shoot for an OG of ~1.060. Ferment with a fruity ale yeast. Drink just as the ferment ends.
Sounds like this could be an interesting experiment indeed! Just need to get some oat malt from our friends at Thomas Fawcett. :mug:

They would have turned really fast wouldn't they?
Not if they don't have time to turn; I suspect that these unhopped ales were brewed in small batches and consumed very quickly. Time for me to spend some time in the library, methinks!
 

Joos

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Oh, I dunno. Different tastes, and all that.

Seems to me that nigh unto 6,000 years (arguably) can't be all wrong. It was only about 600 years ago that hops became the dominant herb in brewing, and unhopped - and un-gruited (?) - ales were the norm.

Consumed at the tail end of the ferment, medieval ales are not bad. They're certainly not cloyingly sweet. Don't believe me? Try a one-gallon experiment.

15% barley malt
15% wheat malt
70% oat malt

Shoot for an OG of ~1.060. Ferment with a fruity ale yeast. Drink just as the ferment ends.

You'll be drinking what we know the monks who ran St Paul's cathedral in London drank close to 1000 gallons of in 1286AD.

It isn't that malt beverages without hops are nasty. It's that they're different.

Bob
Well your right and wrong.As someone already said they used to use gruit.Witch was either yarrow ,spruce ,figs etc.To make beer with NO bittering would just be nasty.To the OP.Also someone has already mentioned,just use an ounce of low AA at 60 mins to balance the taste and you'll be fine.
 

Bob

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Well your right and wrong.As someone already said they used to use gruit.Witch was either yarrow ,spruce ,figs etc.To make beer with NO bittering would just be nasty.To the OP.Also someone has already mentioned,just use an ounce of low AA at 60 mins to balance the taste and you'll be fine.
+1 to Flyanger. Not all pre-hops malt beverages were gruit-beers. Most all were malt ales without spices of any kind.

Also, I urge you to re-read what I wrote about 'nasty'. Tastes change. Frankly, I find it refreshingly different, and encourage you to try it.

Bob
 

flyangler18

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Well your right and wrong.As someone already said they used to use gruit.Witch was either yarrow ,spruce ,figs etc.To make beer with NO bittering would just be nasty.To the OP.Also someone has already mentioned,just use an ounce of low AA at 60 mins to balance the taste and you'll be fine.
You, sir, are quite wrong; unbittered ales did indeed exist.

EDIT: With some Google-fu, I found an interesting article here.
 

Revvy

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You, sir, are quite wrong; unbittered ales did indeed exist.

EDIT: With some Google-fu, I found an interesting article here.

Thanks for digging it up, those look interesting, Jason.

Don't you think it would be awesome to hang out with our resident historian for a few days.?

I hear his library is wicked cool...but I bet his brewery is as well....

As always Bob, you rule!!!:rockin:
 

flyangler18

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Don't you think it would be awesome to hang out with our resident historian for a few days.?

I hear his library is wicked cool...but I bet his brewery is as well....
Indeed, but sadly, NQ3X and I have been unsuccessful at meeting! I suspect we shall soon remedy that situation.

In the meantime, another reference!

Jason
 

Revvy

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Indeed, but sadly, NQ3X and I have been unsuccessful at meeting! I suspect we shall soon remedy that situation.

In the meantime, another reference!

Jason
Did you notice this line?

Sparging did not even become feasible until the introduction of hops.
I know sparging was a later "invention" but what did the introduction of hops have to do with it?
 

flyangler18

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I know sparging was a later "invention" but what did the introduction of hops have to do with it?
This is purely speculation on my part, but there's no practical reason to boil the runnings if you aren't extracting bitterness from hops and, related to that, reducing the volume of the wort to hit an intended gravity.

In other words, if you aren't boiling the runnings and just moving to the fermentation vessel then rinsing all available sugars from the mash doesn't prove necessary.

Ya dig?
 

carnevoodoo

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This is purely speculation on my part, but there's no practical reason to boil the runnings if you aren't extracting bitterness from hops and, related to that, reducing the volume of the wort to hit an intended gravity.

In other words, if you aren't boiling the runnings and just moving to the fermentation vessel then rinsing all available sugars from the mash doesn't prove necessary.

Ya dig?
But boiling the runnings DOES drive off DMS. Hops utilization isn't the only reason to boil.
 

hopsalot

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Why... I think I am going to be SICK
 

flyangler18

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But boiling the runnings DOES drive off DMS. Hops utilization isn't the only reason to boil.
True, but how do you explain styles like Berliner Weisse that, despite high proportions of Pilsner malt, only employ a 15 minute boil (or in some cases, no boil) without showing DMS in the final product?

The historical recipe that Bob posted earlier doesn't contain any malt that would suggest potential issues with DMS. ;)
 

Bob

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Thanks for digging it up, those look interesting, Jason.

Don't you think it would be awesome to hang out with our resident historian for a few days.?

I hear his library is wicked cool...but I bet his brewery is as well....

As always Bob, you rule!!!
[blush]

Okay, lookee. Most of my library consists of PDFs and stacks of stuff in 3-ring binders a librarian friend gets for me when he's bored at the university library for which he works. Obscure PhD dissertation stuff, like "The Economics of Commercial Brewing in Lubeck in 1385". Honest, it's terrible; there'll be something like 45 pages of skull-crushing boredom for that one line of interesting info. Certainly it's not something I show to visitors, for fear the pile of loose paper will suddenly become sentient and devour my guest. ;)

As for my brewery, it consists of a decades-old Artic Boy cooler (5-gal mash tun), a 3 gallon pot and a 5 gallon pot. Nothing impressive AT ALL. You want impressive, I'll take you to Chris Bowen's place (mrbowenz on HBT) and lie. :D

If I 'rule', it's inadvertent, I assure you.

I know sparging was a later "invention" but what did the introduction of hops have to do with it?
Nothing, unfortunately. That article is suspect. In the first place, it's dated; the state of the research art has advanced quite a long way in the past 13 years. In the second, the article is full of excessive oversimplification and downright wrong stuff and horrible leaps of logic.

It's decent as a starting point for your own research. By that I mean taking each point and saying, "What a pile of crap. What really happened?" In a very few instances you'll confirm what Mr Hardy says. In the rest, you'll start to get the real story.

This is purely speculation on my part, but there's no practical reason to boil the runnings if you aren't extracting bitterness from hops and, related to that, reducing the volume of the wort to hit an intended gravity.

In other words, if you aren't boiling the runnings and just moving to the fermentation vessel then rinsing all available sugars from the mash doesn't prove necessary.
Boiling the gyle certainly wasn't a universal practice. It was known, however, that even unhopped ale benefitted from boiling the wort. In fact, Oxford University passed an edict in the latter half of the 15th century requiring ale-brewers who sold to the University to boil their worts and skim the foam.

Presumably this had something to do with wort clarity. Yes, I said 'clarity'. All too often we dismiss clarity as an issue with historical beer, writing it off due to the advent of glass being a mid-19th-century event. However, there is sufficient documentary evidence to support that beverage clarity was of some importance to drinkers. The Oxford reference isn't the only one; in his "Dietarie of Healthe" published in 1542, Andrew Boorde had this to say:

"Ale is made of malte and water; and they the which do put any other thynge to ale than is rehersed, except yest, barm, or goddesgood doth sophysicat there ale. Ale for an Englysshe man is a naturall drinke. Ale muste have these properties, it muste be fresshe and cleare, it must not be ropy, nor smoky, nor it must have no wefte nor tayle. Ale shulde not be dronke under .V. dayes olde. Barly malte maketh better ale than Oten malte or any other corne doth...."
Note several things about this. First, the utter lack of bittering herbs. Second, the words I have emphasized in bold text. All of them are related to beverage clarity. Note also the word "smoky".

Interesting, isn't it?

Bob
 

Bobby_M

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They used to wipe their asses with pine cones and leaves back in the day too but I prefer modern day 2-ply. I appreciate history and all but the point is that I (we) don't think the OP has a full understanding of the range of IBUs that are possible and that some portion of hops is generally desirable.
 

Tonypr24

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How about make beer with 2 pounds of dried malt extract 2 pound of light malt extract and 1 pound of corn sugar and a pound of Rice Syrup Solids and only a 1/2 oz of bitter hops and boil for only 10 before racking to primary....I was given this recipe to make from my local brewery shop...any thoughts???
 

Whisler85

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lambics use aged hops

aged hops give the beer no hops bitterness or aroma, but do lend a preservative value

might be something you want to look into

otherwise, i guess you could just use mid to high alpha hops w/90 minute boils for balance only- you shouldnt have much flavor or aroma left in the final product
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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Since this has been covered well, let me just say:
Sounds like you want to make a bud light.
Of course you could but you may find it very sweet, or your need to make it very light. IE, bud.
 
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syd138

syd138

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Wow.. I got a lot of responses on this..

but no, I hate Bud Light. I was just wondering about the specifics of hop usage in beer.

I was thinking about whether all beers used hops or not.
 

jmiracle

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I made a beer with yarrow and mugwort but I must have screwed something up because it was undrinkable swill.

Seriously it tasted like grape soda that had gone bad.
 

IowaHarry

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Wow.. I got a lot of responses on this..

but no, I hate Bud Light. I was just wondering about the specifics of hop usage in beer.

I was thinking about whether all beers used hops or not.
So, didja get your money's worth?

And did you get an answer?

The predominant answer appears to be, anyone who would even consider making a beer without hops should be branded a heretic and burned at the stake.

My next project will be un-hopped beer right after I get done with my unflavored hooch. Bring on the heretic brand you bitdges.
 

budbo

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How about make beer with 2 pounds of dried malt extract 2 pound of light malt extract and 1 pound of corn sugar and a pound of Rice Syrup Solids and only a 1/2 oz of bitter hops and boil for only 10 before racking to primary....I was given this recipe to make from my local brewery shop...any thoughts??
sounds like Coors
 

madcapstudios

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My very first batch as a homebrewer more than a dozen years ago - I forgot to add hops. Well I didn't forget as much as I assumed that the can of malt extract syrup I had was hopped when it clearly said unhopped.

In any case, it was completely undrinkable and went down the drain.

Luckily, I wasn't discouraged enough to give up and went on to make a second attempt.
 

jmiracle

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Check out this website, for making beers without hops:

gruitale.com :: Gruit Ale & Unhopped Beers, Brewing Herbs and Recipes


Also, I have posted an excellent recipe for an unhopped stout in the "spice/herb/vegetable" beer, entitled "Mugwort anti-imperial stout."
That is an interesting recipe, I think I see the problem with my mugwort beer, I put in about 1/4 the amount of mugwort your recipe calls for, plus I had no idea how much yarrow to use (I picked it fresh).

If anybody wants to know where to get mugwort try a wiccan bookstore there's all kinds of great herbs to be had there. :fro:
 

brewmonger

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That is an interesting recipe, I think I see the problem with my mugwort beer, I put in about 1/4 the amount of mugwort your recipe calls for, plus I had no idea how much yarrow to use (I picked it fresh).

If anybody wants to know where to get mugwort try a wiccan bookstore there's all kinds of great herbs to be had there. :fro:
Yarrow is a tricky herb. Most people do not understand how to use it, including myself until recently. I had an email exchange with Stephen Harrold Buhner, author of "Sacred Herbal and Healing beers", in which I explained my struggles in making a palatable gruit ale.

He explained that yarrow leaves are exceptionally astringent, and that the best way to utilize the yarrow plant in brewing is to only use fresh flowering tops.

He suggested bringing the wort to a boil, putting the yarrow tops in it and turning off the heat, then covering and allow it to cool. (I assume the purpose of leaving the top on is to prevent the volatile aromatic floral compounds from escaping)

He also suggested simply steeping some fresh yarrow flowers in the beer in the secondary.

I have not had a chance to try these techniques yet, but I can say from experience that yarrow is a potent herb. I have ruined two brews because I did not know how to use it properly.

Mugwort, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward. I find that it makes a great hops substitute, though it doesn't have much in the way of aromatics (you can get that from other herbs and spices) it is a powerful preservative and bittering agent (it is in the same family as wormwood) with a slightly spicy flavor.

I strongly recommend that Mugwort stout recipe as a first step into brewing without hops, assuming you already have experience with All-Grain brewing. It turns out quite excellent and ages nicely.

I bet if you gave it even to a beer judge without telling them it is totally hop-less, they wouldn't know the difference. They would probably be able to tell it has other spices and herbs for flavor and aroma, but the mugwort does just as good a job as the hops at bittering, you'd never know.
 

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