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Trending Hops for 2022

Imagine an Old Fashioned cocktail with no aromatic bitters. Think of a bowl of gumbo with no seasonings. Or jerk chicken without the jerk. In a similar vein, what would beer be without hops?

Hop flower cones impart balancing aromatics, flavor and bitterness when boiled in wort or added as dry hops in  young beer. European brewers in the Middle Ages lucked out when they experimented with adding fragrant wild hops to their brews. Not only did hops extend the life of the beer and help prevent bacterial spoilage, but early brewers also quickly discovered that hops cut the beer’s sweetness with a pleasant bitterness that made ales more palatable, enjoyable and dry.

The bittering potential of hops increases as the percentage of the flower’s alpha acids increases. Alpha acids are molecules located in the yellow resin glands of hop flower cones. When added at the end of the wort boiling process, alpha acids and other hop oils provide aroma and a touch of flavor. When added slightly earlier, hops produce deeper flavors in the beer. A longer boil time with hops causes increased isomerization of alpha acids that contributes to pleasant bitterness. A hop variety with 4% alpha acids offers a slight bittering potential, while hops with 10+ alpha acid percentages pack considerable bittering capabilities. 

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