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Hops - Information about the hop cone, brewing with hops and hops in beer styles

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hops

hops

Although hops are the most recent addition to the basic recipe for beer, there is no doubt that the bitter, aromatic herb has become the star. Its distinctive aroma and bitterness are often the first thing noticed when approaching a new beer. And in today's climate of extreme beers the herb that can deliver mind-numbing levels of bitterness is given esteemed status.

There seems to be some confusion about hops' role in the brewing process. I've seem more than one reference in popular culture that suggest hops are responsible for the alcohol in beer. Of course this isn't the case. Added during the boil, long after the sugars that will be turned into alcohol have been extracted from the barley, hops' most significant role is as a flavoring and bittering agent.

Here are some ways that brewers use hops and some terms related to hops used in and outside of the brewhouse: As one of the world's most popular herbs, hops are carefully cultivated and harvested by those who grow them. Here is a little about that: While hops are found in every style of beer they are significant in certain styles.
  • India Pale Ale or IPA is known as the hops-lovers beer. It more than any other style showcases hops. Check out my review of Goose Island IPA and Pyramid's IPA
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  • Barleywine is another style known for its hoppiness. Many barleywines contain huge amounts of the herb balanced by high alcohol levels and barley flavor.
  • Pilsner is also worth listing as a beer with hoppy significance. Not because it contains very large amounts of hops - it doesn't - but because of the importance of a very specific hops variety, Saaz, and what that hop contributes to the beer.
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