Beer Knowledge

What are Hops?

The Role of Hop in Beer

What are Hops in Beer?

Hops are one of four essential ingredients in beer alongside malted barley, yeast, and water.

Hops are small, green, cone shaped flower that grow on a vine-like plant in a Pinecone-like shape. All hop plants grow vertically, curling upward in a clockwise pattern.

The flavors, aromas, and bitterness that hops add to beer come from tiny glands in the flowers that are filled with a sticky substance called lupulin.

Compared to malt which provides sweetness, hops are associated with bitterness, but that isn’t its only role.

Here are the 5-primary roles of hops in Beer

  1. Contribute bitterness that counterbalances the sweetness of the malt
  2. Add flavor
  3. Provide aroma
  4. Act as natural preservative that help keep beer from spoiling
  5. Have antibacterial properties that prevents nasty microorganisms from developing in beer

However, not all hops contribute the same flavor or level of bitterness. The effect of hops on the beer varies by type and use. Each variety of hop provides different characteristics and flavors to beer. The flavors and aromas of Hops can vary from spicy to citrusy, floral to grassy and so on.

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