Homebrewing for Beginners: An Intro to Hops

>So you're curious about homebrewing—but maybe you don't know American hops from "noble hops," or even what hops are in the first place. Then head over to Serious Eats to check out Joe Postma's invaluable "Homebrewing Basics" series, which has covered homebrewing essentials, grain, yeast, and hops thus far. Here's just a taste of his latest:

Some styles, like the brown ale or hefeweizen, minimize the apparent bitterness and use just enough delicately-flavored hops to bring things into balance. Others, like IPAs, intentionally use assertive hops and showcase the bitter qualities (along with other hop flavors.)

When you buy hops, you'll probably find an %AA marked somewhere on the package. This number is the percentage of alpha acids by weight in the package. Alpha acids produce the bitterness in hops, so this percentage suggests how bitter one hop variety is compared to another. For example, a popular American hop called Cascade is generally rated 6%AA, while another type called Magnum is around 12%. If you make two versions of the same beer recipe, one using Cascade hops and the other using the same amount of Magnum hops, you will find the second one much more bitter (and differently flavored in general.)

The percentage of alpha acids is usually pretty consistent for each variety, but it can vary from crop to crop and year to year. If you're following a recipe that calls for 7%AA Amarillo hops, and you purchase a package listed as 13.5%, you should cut the amount you use in half or you'll end up with a very different beer than you intended. If a recipe calls for 3.5% AA Saaz hops and you buy 4%, I would consider that close enough and not really adjust the recipe.

Read the full story at Serious Eats.

Presented by

Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Health

Just In