Then Where and When of Hop­ping

Tim­ing hops ad­di­tions is more than just a one-size-fits-all-hops propo­si­tion. Dick Cantwell dis­cusses the finer points of get­ting in­tended fla­vors by care­fully ex­per­i­ment­ing with the nu­ances of your recipe de­sign.

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents -

Tim­ing hops ad­di­tions is more than just a one-size-fits-all-hops propo­si­tion. Dick Cantwell dis­cusses the finer points of get­ting in­tended fla­vors by care­fully ex­per­i­ment­ing with the nu­ances of your recipe de­sign.

Brew­ers are well aware that the tim­ing of hop­ping, in the ket­tle, whirlpool, fer­men­tor, or con­di­tion­ing ves­sel (in­clud­ing the keg or cask) is of es­sen­tial im­por­tance to the hops char­ac­ter and over­all ef­fect it has on any beer.

I even re­call the ef­forts of a par­tic­u­lar brewer friend of mine sev­eral years ago who, in an ef­fort to max­i­mize the ef­fect of late hop­ping, placed a sin­gle hop cone in each bot­tle of his IPA; how­ever sound the prin­ci­ple may have been, the out­come was not fe­lic­i­tous (an­other brewer friend of mine, who we fig­ured out later had judged this beer, wrote in his com­ments: “Bad brewer, bad!”). We know that cer­tain hops va­ri­eties are most ap­pro­pri­ately used for bit­ter­ing. Oth­ers show their col­ors best (as lit­er­ally demon­strated by spec­tro­scopic ex­am­i­na­tion) as later ad­di­tions, where aroma com­pounds are kept from the de­struc­tive rig­ors of the boil and live on to rise from the glass.

A few ba­sic con­sid­er­a­tions ought to be made when de­cid­ing when and in what com­bi­na­tion hops are added to the process when brew­ing these many-lay­ered beers. Once you know a bit about the fla­vor-ac­tive com­pounds found in the es­sen­tial oils of hops, it’s worth rec­og­niz­ing that cer­tain ones will not per­cep­ti­bly sur­vive the heat and ac­tiv­ity of the boil, whereas oth­ers will un­dergo bio­trans­for­ma­tion dur­ing fermentation. Dry hop­ping or the use of oils can pro­vide the com­pelling kiss that best com­bines the hops char­ac­ter with the ad­di­tional in­gre­di­ents of your eclectic IPA.

Fur­ther­more, the fla­vors and aro­mas un­locked by a late hot-side ad­di­tion (in the whirlpool, for ex­am­ple), along with nom­i­nal at­ten­dant bit­ter­ness, can be just the thing when craft­ing any IPA and can pro­vide es­cort to steeped teas, herbs, and the other ma­te­ri­als of broader in­ven­tion.

Sev­eral years ago, dry hop­ping was usu­ally only briefly ref­er­enced, an af­ter­thought of a pound or two added to the fer­men­tor at knock­out or a bag hastily stuffed and se­cured by a keg’s bung.

To­day, as we all know, it’s be­come some­thing of a ver­ti­cal in­dus­try, with not only hops va­ri­eties and spe­cific hops prod­ucts iden­ti­fied as par­tic­u­larly prized for late cold-side ad­di­tions but also spe­cial­ized equip­ment of vary­ing de­sign avail­able to the com­mit­ted dry hop­per. It is re­ally this at­ten­tion—one might even call it ob­ses­sion—that has al­lowed nu­ances of fla­vor and aroma res­i­dent in hops to be un­locked, free to com­bine with the es­sen­tial el­e­ments of fruits, herbs, and all the rest, that jus­ti­fies the de­vel­op­ment of these hy­brid beers. It is partly con­cep­tual, per­haps dic­tated by geo­graphic or cul­tural as­so­ci­a­tion.

It is partly chem­i­cal, the makeup of a par­tic­u­lar hops va­ri­ety and how it is de­con­structed by the sen­si­bil­i­ties of the brewer and the palate of the beer drinker. And it is partly com­bi­na­tional, the lay­er­ing that takes place not just from the con­tri­bu­tion of hops, but from the com­bi­na­tion of hops with other in­gre­di­ents.

There is a lot, in short, to think about when de­cid­ing when to add which hop to an eclectic IPA. Prac­ti­cally speak­ing, it can be use­ful to com­bine var­i­ous el­e­ments roughly in pro­por­tion, just to see if what you’re think­ing about is some­thing you like. A dol­lop of this and a sprig of that, pos­si­bly cold and pos­si­bly steeped, can give you some idea of how things will play.

You might also try rub­bing a pinch of hops pel­lets with what­ever other dry ma­te­ri­als you’re con­sid­er­ing. Or there’s adding a dash of a par­tic­u­lar juice mix or zested peel to a glass of fin­ished beer. Try adding an herb un­der re­view to hot and cold liq­uid, to wort or beer, at any stage in the process to get a sort of un­sci­en­tific and sub­jec­tive pre­view of where the con­sid­ered ma­te­rial should be added. Some stal­warts do well on the hot side, as we’ve out­lined; oth­ers grudg­ingly un­fold in fermentation, con­di­tion­ing, or later, much the same way hops do.

This ex­cerpt is reprinted with per­mis­sion from Brew­ing Eclectic IPA: Push­ing the Bound­aries of In­dia Pale Ale by Dick Cantwell (Brew­ers Pub­li­ca­tions, 2018).

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