6 Ways to Add Hops In Your Beer
Today we take a look at the best hopping techniques for homebrewing, a sort of summary. It's a important topic to understand mash hopping, first wort hops, dry hops, boil hops and late hop additions!
Sometimes homebrewers apply techniques that are not appropriate to the specific beer style or aromatic profile, and even if this choice is often given by the secrets of brewing, everything starts with an understanding of the techniques.
Here we want to talk about hopping methods, starting from mash process to the finished beer.
1. Mash Hopping
Mash hopping is a simple addition of hops directly into the mash pot, leaving it above the grain bed during sparging. This method gives the beer a better balance and character, but practically does not add bitterness. Nowadays mash hopping is rarely used because the bitterness is not released and most of the aromatic oils are lost during boiling.
2. First Wort Hops
First wort hops is defined when adding hops to the boiling pot at the beginning of lautering. Unlike mash hopping, in this case, the hops remain in the pot during boiling and then give the must a bitter taste. It is a German technique recently rediscovered by homebrewers: the beers hopped in this way have proved softer and more balanced in blind tastings, and have shown a less bitter side and aftertaste.
3. Bittering Hops
By bittering hops or boil hops we mean just what it looks like: hops added during boiling to add bitterness to beer by releasing alpha acids in proportion to the duration of their boiling.
4. Late Hop Additions
The hop added in the last 5-15 minutes of boiling contributes very little to the bitterness of the beer, therefore its main purpose is to give the beer aromas and aromatic oils. In addition to the bitter compounds, hops contain volatile oils which bring the strong aroma and floral flavor required in many hoppy styles. These additions must be introduced in the last 10 minutes of boiling, to preserve as many aromatic oils as possible, because they evaporate after 10-20 minutes from the addition.
5. Hop Back
A hop back is a piece of equipment that contains hops placed between the pot and the cooler to infuse the aromatic oils directly into the boiling wort before it is cooled and transferred to the fermenter. This technique does not have a significant contribution in terms of bitterness, but can have a great effect on the aroma of finished beer.
6. Dry Hopping
It is the addition of hops to beer after fermentation, inside the secondary fermenter or the keg for a period of days or weeks. The result is zero in terms of bitterness but significant in terms of aroma, so much so that dry hopping is widely used to add a burst of hops to the beers.