10 Facts About Hops, Beer's Hoppy Pal
What are hops?
There are four basic ingredients in beer: malted barley, yeast, water, and hops. So, what exact is a hop? Hops are the flowers or cones of a plant called Humulus lupulus. They play a vital part in beer by adding aroma and flavor. There are 80+ different varieties of hops and each hop has its own distinct characteristics, some of which you'll learn about below.
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10 Fun Facts About Hops
- Hops grow on a bine, not a vine.
- Hops always grow and twist in a clockwise direction. ⏰
- Have you ever heard anyone say, "Whoa, that's a lot of IBUs!"? In the brewing world International Bitterness Units, also commonly referred to as IBUs, is the scale used to measure beer bitterness. The IBU range is 0-1,000, but human taste receptors can only pick up a maximum bitterness of 120.
- Hops have sexes. Yes, you read that right. Like many different plants there are male and female plants, and are distinguished by their flowers. Only the female plants produce the hop cones used to brew beer. ?
- Brewers and homebrewers brew with hops for two different purposes and outcomes: bittering (what you'll taste) and aroma (what you'll smell).
- IPA stands for India Pale Ale, and is one of the most recognized hoppy beer styles.
- Hops are NOT good for dogs or cats. Keep them out of reach! Surprisingly, hops are healthy for chickens as they help their digestive system by keeping harmful bacteria from entering their intestines.
- Hops are soporific, adj., tending to induce drowsiness or sleep, and hand harvesting them can make you sleepy. ?
- A large portion of harvested hops are dried and pelletized. Most breweries use these pellet hops because they measure out, work with, and take up less storage space. Breweries will experiment with wet hopping, a process in which the whole hop is used.
- YOU can grow hops at home! Learn how to get started here, via Hopculture.
"Every single beer on the market today contains hops. If they didn’t, they would be a “gruit” which is basically a beer that, instead of hops, uses witches-brew-sounding herbs like bog myrtle, yarrow, heather, or juniper."- Beer Fundamentals - What Are Hops?, Allagash Brewing
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