Hop Additions in Beer Brewing, Details & Advice

In this article, we will be looking at different ways of using hops in beer brewing. In regards to the hop additions, you will see in beer brewing recipes how additions that go into the boil are all times in minutes. These minutes signify the number of minutes left in the boil. In commonly used beer recipe calculations there will be a facility that allows you to calculate the number of hops you need to add based on their alpha acid content. So let’s get started with our list.

If you are interested to learn more about hops as a beer ingredient you can check our article Beer School: What about Hops? for more awesome information.

1. Mash Hopping

Adding hops in the mashing process of brewing beer.
Credit: http://beer.daveshea.com/2015/01/29/048-scattershot-double-ipa-x4/

This is a seldom-used method where you add hop into your mash. Mash hopping is thought by some to contribute some flavor and aroma as well as lowering PH by a small amount.

It is used often in addition to a bittering hop at the start of the boil. But is rarely seen these days. Testing has shown that compared to 60 minutes boil addition this method is only 30 % effective.

2. First Wort Hops

This bittering method used to be very commonly used at one time and is still used in commercial brewing today. Method involves adding the hops to your brewing system directly to the wort and before you sparge. It gives hops extra time compared to adding them to the boil.

We found that this gives the resulting beer more bitterness. It is certainly something to try when smoother bitterness is desired. Testing has shown that adding bittering hops in this way gives a 10 % increase in bitterness compared to a 60 minutes bittering operation. Also, be sure to use hops that are classed as bittering hops when using this method.

Two hop flowers on a branch.
Credit: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/hops_and_craft_beer

3. Bittering Hops

Bittering hops are usually added between 45 to 90 minutes to boil. Most of the bittering of hops is achieved in the first 45 minutes. Even if you double the time to 90 minutes the benefit will only be 4 or 5 % more. This is why you see so many commercial brewing recipes that have 45 minutes of bittering addition regardless of if there is a 60 or a 90 minutes boil.

This is simply a case of hop utilization factors that have a bearing on this and the gravity of the wort. Again be sure to use hops that are classed as bittering hops for best results.

4. Flavoring Hops

They are usually added as between 30 to 15 minutes. Many brewers these days feel that a 30 minutes addition will have a little or no effect on the flavor. 15 to 20 minutes are much more popular now for flavor. This range would be our suggestion also.

It is often best to use more than one hop at this stage to help develop something with more of a variety of flavors. Particularly if you are brewing a hop-forward beer as opposed to malt-forward beer. Do not overdo it as this will create a confusing taste in beer.

Additions in flavoring will still result in extra bitterness but at moderate levels due to reduced boiling time. High alpha acid hop varieties will impart more flavor and bitterness. Do note that some high alpha acid hops are more flavorful than others. It is almost always better to use hops that are not classed as bittering hops for flavor hop.

5. Hop Bursting

A glass of dark ale.
Credit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Homebrewing/comments/2doux7/i_tried_the_hop_bursting_technique_on_a_brown_ale/

Hop bursting is a technique that is becoming more popular for brewing IPA styles of beer. This can be used with a shorter than usual boil period with great results. The majority of the hops are added anywhere between the 15-minute point leading to flame out or zero minutes. This means that much more hops are used than normal to attain the desired bitterness.

But the effect is a very pleasing one in terms of flavor and aroma. Do note that when you do not add the hops into the main part of the boil then this can lead to an increased chance of boilovers.

A sack of pelletized hops for beer brewing.
Credit: https://www.seriouseats.com/different-types-of-hops

6. Aroma Hops

They are late boil additions if we add hops during the late minutes of the boil. Then less of the aromatic oils are lost to evaporation. Compared to 15 to 20 minutes additions that also impart some aroma. You will see additions made at 5 minutes, for this reason, are more popular as also adding them at the end of the boil. This is known as flame out or zero minutes. Many brewers will then whirlpool and let it steep for 5 to 30 minutes before cooling the wort.

7. Dry Hopping

Four beer fermenters filled with hops for dry hopping method.
Credit: https://beerrecipes.org/BLOG/6/Dry-Hopping-Techniques

This technique was traditionally used for IPA styles beers. But these days many different types of beer are now dry hopping. This process involved adding hops into your fermentation vessel usually for between 3 to 5 days. It is considered best advice to avoid low alpha acid hop in dry hopping because this could land a more plant flavor than the desired aroma.

Dry hopping is most successful in temperatures between 50 to 70 F. Some people would add them to a keg at lower temperatures but this will mean a much longer period as needed to obtain the same result at higher temperatures. Dry hopping contributes to IBU despite popular belief that it doesn’t. But the addition is quite low.

8. Hop Tea

A cup of hop tea with flowers of hop around the glass mug.
Credit: https://learn.kegerator.com/how-to-make-hop-tea/

Hop tea is widely seen as a method that can replace dry hopping. Some could argue that the effect is closer to offer to boil additions replacing whirlpool hops. Hop tea compared to other methods will produce a wider spectrum of flavor. It is actually added at the bottling stage which means your hops are being added at the last stage. It is best to start your hop tea with water heated to 140 to 160 F. You should use a filter to remove hop debris and add the liquid once it has cooled as close to the temperature of your beer as possible.

Hops commonly come in two forms, pellets and flowers. Different people prefer each for different reasons but they both do the same end job. The most important thing is to have fresh hops. All hops are best kept in the freezer in an airtight seal bag. They can be kept like this for up to 2 or 3 years. Over time though they will lose bitterness it’s a slow process. Cheers.

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