“A climbing plant that can grow to a height of over 20 feet, the hop’s closest botanical relative is Cannabis! Hop cones contain a wealth of resins and essential oils which give the beer its distinctive bitterness and hop flavour. Contrary to public perception, beer is not “made from hops”. Typically a barrel of beer is made from 20kg of malt and 150g of hops. Hops are used rather like a spice. Hops are picked in the late summer and dried in Oast Houses. Traditionally they are packed into tall sacks called pockets. Nowadays they tend to be compacted into pellets and vacuum packed in foil, like coffee, to preserve their freshness.”
“Hops are the cone-like flowers of a climbing vine that is native to the temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia. The species has separate male and female plants and only the female vines produce the cones. The vines will climb 20 ft or more up any available support and are commonly trained onto strings or wires when grown commercially. The leaves resemble grape leaves and the cones vaguely resemble pine cones in shape but are light green, thin and papery. At the base of the petals are the yellow lupulin glands which contain the essential oils and resins that are so prized by brewers” (How To Brew)
“The bitterness contributed by hops balances the sweetness of the malt sugars and provides a refreshing finish. The main bittering agent is the alpha acid resin which is insoluble in water until isomerized by boiling. The longer the boil, the greater the percentage of isomerization and the more bitter the beer gets. However, the oils that contribute characteristic flavors and aromas are volatile and are lost to a large degree during the long boil. There are many varieties of hops, but they are usually divided into two general categories: Bittering and Aroma. Bittering hops are high in alpha acids, at about 10 percent by weight. Aroma hops are usually lower, around 5 percent and contribute a more desirable aroma and flavor to the beer. Several hop varieties are in-between and are used for both purposes. Bittering hops, also known as kettle hops, are added at the start of the boil and boiled for about an hour. Aroma hops are added towards the end of the boil and are typically boiled for 15 minutes or less. Aroma hops are also referred to as finishing hops. By adding different varieties of hops at different times during the boil, a more complex hop profile can be established that gives the beer a balance of hop bitterness, taste and aroma. Descriptions of the five main types of hop additions and their attributes follow.” (How To Brew)
Hops come in a number of different forms: whole, plug and pellet.
“It’s rare for any group of brewers to agree on the best form of hops. Each of the common forms has its own advantages and disadvantages. What form is best for you will depend on where in the brewing process the hops are being used, and will probably change as your brewing methods change.” (How To Brew)
The main constituent in beer; as grapes are to wine, barley is to beer. Barley grains are low in fat and protein but rich in starch. Starch is the grain’s food reserve that is made up of chains of sugar molecules. In nature this would feed the growing barley plant but in brewing we hijack thestarch to make beer! Malting starts the process of releasing the sugar and making it available for brewing. Brewers use specially selected varieties of barley that are particularly suited to being malted and making high quality beer. The maritime climate in the United Kingdom is particularly good for growing malting barley making British malt amongst the best in the world. (Beer Academy)
A high quality is essential to the brewing process with four to six pints needed to produce every pint of beer. The particular salts naturally dissolved in local water supplies explains why some quite small towns such as Burton on Trent, Alton and Tadcaster could become home to several large breweries. The dissolved gypsum gave Burton beer keeping qualities which allowed them to be sold as far away as India. (Beer Academy)
“Water chemistry becomes even more important for all-grain brewing. The mineral profile of the water has a large affect on the conversion of sugars from the mash. Water reports, brewing salts and their affects are discussed more in Chapter 15 – Understanding the Mash pH. I suggest you read that chapter before you add any salts to your extract brewing.
Here are the main points to remember about water for extract brewing:
If your water tastes good, your beer should taste good.
Many odors will dissipate during the boil, but some bad tastes need to be removed via filtration or water treatment.
The addition of salts when brewing with extract is not necessary, and is not recommended until you have gained experience with the intended recipe.” (How To Brew)
“A good bet for your first batch of beer is the bottled water sold in most supermarkets as drinking water. Use the 2.5 gallon containers. Use one container for boiling the extract and set the other aside for addition to the fermenter later.” (How To Brew)