Aromatizing the Stone

hops bud

Beer’s four components are (a) malted barley or wheat, (b) water, (c) yeast, and our focus, (d) hops.

According to How to Brew blogger John Palmer, “Hops are the cone-like flowers of a climbing vine that is native to the temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia… At the base of the petals are the yellow lupulin glands that contain the essential oils and resins that are prized by brewers.” Resins within each unit of hops chemically transform while they are boiled, and the longer that the boil lasts, the greater the transformation – and the greater the bitterness of the beer.

For example, consider how any IPA is made. Characteristically hoppy, these beers employ a specifically chosen hops menu while in production that feature mostly bitter flowers accompanied by a lesser dosage of aromatic ones. Bitter hops can be added as the liquid boils and stay inside for anywhere between sixty and ninety minutes. On the other hand, aromatic hops are added near boil’s end, remaining there for roughly fifteen minutes or so before being extracted. So, the final product is an approachable, but hoppy, beer, with a smattering of aromatics to offset the bitterness.

Two beers were sampled recently. Here they are, with hops content identified as bitter or aromatic.

Around the Bend “Ghost of ‘lectricity” Kolsch    This Chicago brewery opened its doors shortly after 2014 with intention to create delicious beer rather than what they call “Big Beer.” The Kolsch is pleasantly refreshing, expressing plenty of citrus-like qualities before a grapefruit pith finish. Its hops selection is:

  1. *Crystal (aromatic)
  2. *Tettnang (aromatic)

Stone Ruination Double IPA  This San Francisco-based brewery started in the mid-’90s as a joint venture between a home brewer and an entrepreneurial music lover. It began simply as an idea discussed late at night between its two creators before being made manifest on July 26, 1996. The Ruination is a hops lovers’ delight, showing an abundance of bitterness on the nose and just enough of a citrusy pop to quench a lionheart’s thirst. Its hops selection is:

  1. *Magnum (bitter)
  2. *Nugget (bitter)
  3. *Centennial (aromatic)
  4. *Simcoe (bitter)
  5. *Citra (aromatic)
  6. *Ozacca  (aromatic)
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