Hops and Brewing

Hops planted in our yard are ready for use in homebrewing

Cascade Hops (Humulus lupulus)

Humulus lupulus, or hops, is a perennial viney plant in the hemp family. Its cone-shaped fruits are one of the four key ingredients in modern beer (water, malted grain, hops, and yeast). Hops add bitter flavor and provide anti-microbial protection for beer. A wide variety of herbs have been used throughout history as the flavoring agent for beer, but since the 15th century, hops have essentially replaced all of these.

Much of the variety among beers is controlled by the choices the brewer makes in use of hops. This is especially true in currently popular hop-forward types of beer, like Indian Pale Ale (IPA). There are well over 100 varieties of hops, often categorized into bittering and aromatic varieties. In the right-most picture above, a hop cone has been pulled apart to show its yellow lupulin, which are small glands containing the essential oils and hop acids important to brewing.

Three years ago I planted the Cascade Hop plants seen in these photos next to a Red Pine tree that they could climb up. Cascade was developed in the 1960’s in Oregon; it is most commonly used for its aroma, but can also be used as a bittering hop. It gives a citrusy, grapefruit-like flavor to beers.

Yesterday I brewed a basic IPA recipe, using only fresh-picked Cascade hops from my plants.

The following slideshow illustrates yesterday’s brewing process. Many websites provide home brewing instruction; John Palmer’s site is one of the best.

  1. The ingredients other than hops and water — malt products, oats, and yeast
  2. The setup used to boil the mixture of hops and grain sugars (wort)
  3. Inside the kettle while boiling the wort
  4. The wort with yeast added fermenting in its carboy

Published by jimr77

Recently retired, loving life in northern Minnesota

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