The four essential ingredients used for the making of beer are water, malted barley, yeast and hops. By brewing beer in your home, you will have the opportunity to brew a beer you may not otherwise be able to get where you live. You can easily determine the exact taste of the beer by your choice of ingredients. Dozens of different varieties of hops exist, and varying the one you select will greatly affect the taste and aroma of the final beer product you brew. How to choose hops when brewing your own beer will largely depend on the bitterness, taste and aroma you want in the final product. This writing will help you make that decision.
The many kinds of hops available make the process of choosing very difficult. The many varieties that are grown in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and in North America, are very different in their properties, and the different types of hops are used in the making of more than one kind of beer. The variety known as Santiam may be used to create the Lager beer, or a pilsner or American ale; Tomahawk variety may be used for brewing an ale; German Hersbrucker is the hops utilized for lager, wheat beers, bock and pilsner; the U.S. Northern Brewer variety may be used to brew bitter, porter and California (steam) beer.
Three properties of hops, bitterness, flavor and aroma should be considered when you are deciding on the final bitterness, flavor and aroma of the beer you wish to brew.
The alpha acid in hops determines how bitter the hops will taste, and the rating of the hops specifies how much, by weight, of the alpha acids, are contained in the hops you may be considering. The higher the rating, the more bitter the beer will be, and a low alpha hop of the same weight, will add less bitterness.
So knowing the hop rating of the variety you are considering is important when choosing a variety to use. The bitterness of the hop will balance out the sweetness that is contributed by the malt ingredient, so careful consideration of the rating of the hops chosen, and the sweetness that the malt contributes, will be needed to give you the desired final beer you want.
Aroma and flavor that is added by the variety of hops chosen is a consideration when selecting the correct hops for your home brew. Some examples are; Chinook – this provides a piney, spicy, and grapefruit like flavor, that can be mild to heavy. From Australia, the Pride of Ringwood hops provide a strong earthy, woody, and herbal flavor. Ahtanum hops have a citrus, piney, sharp and floral flavor. So the specific flavor characteristic of the hops is an important consideration to bear in mind when selecting a variety for your home brew.
Attempting to decide how to choose hops when brewing your own beer, can be a little intimidating, but the good news is that charts are available that provide the alpha acid ratings, and the flavor and aroma of the different varieties of hops. Other charts are available that will suggest the specific hops to use for specific types of beer. These charts can be accessed through searches on the Internet, and from your local beer making store. With such available information, it makes for easier experimenting with the bitterness in different hops, to determine your final preference.
Attempting to grow your own hops variety is not for everyone, since a full crop will not be harvested for two or even three years. But if you choose to follow that route, it will give you the chance to control one of the four main ingredients of your home brew.
Hopefully this writing has given you a better idea of how to choose hops when brewing your own beer, and has shown you how you may experiment with different varieties of hops to create just the home brew for your taste.