Hops were originally used in beer as a preservative. These days, the bitterness they impart to balance the sweetness of the malt is an integral part of a beers flavour. In addition to the bitterness which comes from the alpha acids there is also a huge array of flavours and aromas available to the home brewer. Whilst this sheet will give instructions to hop your own beer from scratch, it should be said that most beer concentrates on the market will do the bittering part of things pretty well, and the best brands also use hop oils to add additional flavour. Even so the judicious use of small amounts of ‘finishing hops’ will make these beers their delicious best.
METHODS OF HOPPING:
This is the most simple and arguably the best method for adding aroma to your beer, it will also add a pleasant fresh hop flavour. Suitable for cones or pellets.
Dry hopping is the practice of adding fresh hops, cones or pellets directly to your fermenter. The hops are best put into a muslin or nylon bag, they are then added to the brew at some stage during fermentation. My suggestion is to add them before adding your cold water i.e. mix all the ingredients as usual in hot water, when dissolved add the hop bag and give it a stir to ensure the hops are wet, then top up with cold water and pitch the yeast.
The Stubbie or Tea Method:
This method will provide an excellent balance of flavour and aroma. It is most suitable for hop pellets.
As the name implies this method is just like making a cup or pot of tea. It is simply a matter of steeping the hop pellets in boiling water for a few minutes, then tip them straight into the brew either strained or unstrained at the hot water mixing stage
My preferred method is to bring about 500ml of water to the boil in a saucepan, place the hops into a muslin bag and drop them into the boiling water, put the saucepan lid on and remove from the heat. The rest of the ingredients are then mixed with hot water in the fermenter, when blended the contents of the saucepan, including the hop bag are added and stirred into the then cold water.
The quick boil method:
This method can be employed when your recipe includes some additional malt, it has an advantage in the flavour department as the hops essential oils are ‘keyed’ into the malt. It is suitable for cones or pellets.
In a large saucepan blend the additional malt with enough warm water to make a fairly thin mix eg. 500g of malt powder to two litres of water, bring the mix to a gentle boil. In the mean time get your finishing hops, according to your recipe ( I would usually use 12g up to about 20g) split the hops into two equal piles, when the malt mixture is boiling steadily add one of the piles of hops and continue to boil for 10-15 minutes, then add the second pile, stir, cover and remove from the heat. Let the mix rest for 5-10 minutes then strain into your fermenter as part of the hot water in your original mix.