How do you go about choosing hops for a new recipe?

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rocketman768

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How do you come up with what hops you're going to use in a recipe? How do you know what will taste good together? For me, it is hard trying to get a sense of the flavors and aromas of distinct varieties of hops because they are all muddled together in beer when you drink them. I can read about the flavors in a book, but flavor descriptions are often plain wrong in my experience.
 

wildwest450

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rocketman768 said:
How do you come up with what hops you're going to use in a recipe? How do you know what will taste good together? For me, it is hard trying to get a sense of the flavors and aromas of distinct varieties of hops because they are all muddled together in beer when you drink them. I can read about the flavors in a book, but flavor descriptions are often plain wrong in my experience.
Read this http://www.ratebeer.com/HopGuide.asp I know it's sometimes hard for me to pickup on different flavors in a beer (bad sinuses) but the more good beer I drink (microbrew and homebrew) the easier it get's. If the flavor descriptions are "plain wrong" mabey your just screwed.;)
 

Kai

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If all else fails, you can fall back on style appropriate-ness. Are you making a continental lager? Try noble hops - Saaz for milder, Tettnang or Hallertau are a bit spicier. An English beer? East Kent Goldings are always, always delicious, but if they're too assertive Fuggles are milder and grassier. American ale? It seems like every micro and its brother are using Cascade like it's going out of style. If you're making an American take on a foreign beer, you can use the American spin on that style of hops: Willamette for Fuggles, Sterling for Saaz, Mt. Hood for Hallertau, go nuts. American IPA? Try high-AA hybrids like Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, etc.

This is a vast oversimplification, mind you. Mainly cribbed from different places I've read. As you use them, you'll get to recognise their flavours. Try sniffing each variety before you throw it in, or put a tiny piece on your tongue and then quickly remove it.
 

SteveM

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I'm pretty unimaginative - I mostly make American Ales, using either Cascade or Amarillo or both. :)

But if you wish to make something else, there is not much to add to what Kai said. His advice is about dead on - start from there and mix things up as you try new recipes.

This is just me, but I usually don't get too hung up on types and styles, I mess around with different malt and hops blends. Once you get a general feel for the process and an understanding of what you like, it's almost (but not completely) impossible to make a bad beer.
 

TexLaw

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Kai said:
If all else fails, you can fall back on style appropriate-ness.
That's the way to go when you are just getting started. Hop selection did not happen by accident when it comes to the classic styles. As you gain experience with other hops, identifying and using them in other beers, you'll figure out what you like. At least half the fun of brewing is playing around a little.


TL
 

BierMuncher

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rocketman768 said:
How do you come up with what hops you're going to use in a recipe? How do you know what will taste good together? For me, it is hard trying to get a sense of the flavors and aromas of distinct varieties of hops because they are all muddled together in beer when you drink them. I can read about the flavors in a book, but flavor descriptions are often plain wrong in my experience.
My quickest learning curve came from sampling different commercial beers. Then researching those beers that knocked my socks off.

Between ratebeer.com and beeradvocate.com, those beer rating sites will usually shed some light on ingredients (in particular the hops used).

Also doing a simple "clone" search for a favorite yields some good info.

Don't rely on simply hops flavor descriptions. Drink some commercial crafts, then research what went into them.
 

cubbies

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Like TX and others have said, just play around some. It can work really well if you keep it simple too. Try a single malt and use a single hop for bittering, flavor and aroma. If you do this you can say, well the bitterness is a little harsh, but the flavor and aroma are great, or the aroma is a little much, but the flavor is awesome etc etc. This will get you a feel pretty quick. Then you can get a feel for what "type" of hop you like and you can go from there. I think a lot of us are going to have to improvise for the next couple of years. For example, I make a fair amount of English beer and ALWAYS use EKG; it is my favorite hop. However, I just bought a pound of Willamette, that I have never used, because it was available and EKG was not. they are similar enough that I will get by, but EKG would have been preferable.
 
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rocketman768

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I guess I am just a little frustrated with tastes. I don't really "love" any beers and am usually just putting up with a beer. I always get a mix-n-match six-pack every week with different styles, but it seems very difficult for me to pick up on the tastes that they are supposed to have from ratebeer.com and the like (also, a single beer can get wildly different descriptions on that site which further confuses me). I can pick up on if a beer tastes thick or thin and how bitter it tastes, but that's all. Also, I've never heard anyone describe hops as salty, but every single beer I've had leaves a taste that's very close to salty on the very back of my tongue and it usually lingers quite a while (NOT a pleasant taste).

I mean, what do esters taste like for example? How can I get them by themselves so I can recognize the flavor? Know what I mean?
 

kenb

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There are a couple different things you an do. What i started doing about a year ago, is making single hopped IPA's. With LOTs of flavoring hops. Doing them single hopped will really allow you to appreciate the differences in each hop variety. The other thing you can do is buy an ounce of all the different hop varieties and inhale them and make hop teas with each of them. I did find out I am in absolute love with Centennial hops. Simcoe is a close second.
 

WBC

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Sometimes I see 5 or 6 different hops used in a beer and I taste ones like that and it is so muddled that it really does not have any charactor that tou can find whereas if you do mix just 2 hops you then may be able to control the mix better. I think for a certain style the hops have to match or it's just totally out of charactor for that style. To each his own though, throw what ever rings your bell in there.
 
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