If you’re new to brewing beer, you’ve probably heard several terms being tossed about as far as the ingredients that make up a delicious, frothy beverage. In addition to water, yeast, and grain, hops are a key component that every beermaker should pay heed to when brewing.
Often times, we drink beer and describe it as “hoppy”. But what does it mean to be hoppy? Or, better yet, what are hops? Hops are actually the female flowers of the hops plant, which are a member of the hemp family. They contain an oil that imparts a bitter flavor, which acts as an excellent counterpart to the sweetness of malt.
Using hops in beermaking
Beermakers play a delicate game of balancing the ratio of sweet malt to bitter hops flavor when crafting the perfect beer. Every small change can impact the final taste of the beer, such as the type of hops used, when they’re added to the wort, or how long they’re boiled for.
Depending on your preference, you can purchase hops in two different ways: as a whole leaf, or as condensed pellets. Some prefer one over the other, but both play the same role: an essential ingredient for great beer.