The hop, the whole hop and nothing but the hop...
Whether it’s the subtle earthy tones of our Worcester Sorcerer, the light orange and grapefruit notes of our Hop Bomb or the pronounced pine flavour and juicy bitterness of our Dakota, it’s all about the hop.
The hops we use in the Brewhouse to infuse our beers are simply flowers and pretty special ones too. They contain a special mix of essential oils and acids called alpha acids that transform in the brewing process to give many beer styles their signature taste.
You may not realise that we add these hops to our beers in a few different ways to impart that hop aroma and flavour so here is a quick run down.
We use whole cone hops ‘hot side’ where they are added to the brew kettle during an hour long boil. Hop pellets can also be added to the brew kettle but because there are no loose leaves or petals they are often added to the whirlpool vessel on the Hot Side.
The whirlpool is the vessel where we spin up our boiled wort, separating the solid matter that gathers in the centre. We can then pump nice clear wort to our fermenting vessel leaving the solid hop matter behind. The slightly lower temperature of the whirlpool helps us build the aroma profile of the beer without adding too much bitterness.
We then add hop pellets to our beer in the fermentation vessel. They will impart all their fantastic hop aromas then settle out to the bottom of the tank which means we can chill the beer then package it leaving all the hop residue behind.
Whole Cone Hops:
These are the whole hop flowers, kilned straight after harvest to remove a bit of moisture, then gas flushed and vacuum packed for freshness.
The longer these hops are boiled the more the fragrant essential oils and acids are transformed to create the bitter element we recognise in beer. Boiling hops in the wort for shorter periods helps us to preserve more of the flavour and aroma. All of our beer recipes have a schedule of additions over the 60 minute boil to build the profile of our beer.
Type 90 or T90 Hop Pellets:
T90 Hop pellets are simply whole hop flowers that have been milled and pressed into pellet form. They are called T90 because we are getting the most useful 90% of the hop flower and they are a more consistent and efficient way of getting hop flavour in to beer.
Today we use dry hopping to describe any addition of hops on the Cold Side. Dry hopping a couple of hundred years ago involved stuffing a handful of hop flowers into a cask of beer because it helped the beer keep better but it also smelled pretty good too. These days dry hopping is all about packing beer with aroma.
Hops in the future
There are hundreds of hop varieties available to us as brewers, each with its own unique fingerprint of flavours and aromas. More appear every year as farmers try to crossbreed hops to impart the flavours today’s or even tomorrows drinkers will love.
Technology moves quickly too. Despite the brewing process being thousands of years old, researchers and engineers are still giving us more ways than ever to brew hop flavours into our beers. We’ve got plenty of experience under our belt but are always working to bring these exciting developments into the Brewhouse, so look out for more news from Sadler’s in the coming months.
It’s a very exciting time to be making beer but, more than ever, an exciting time to be drinking it.
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