Bittering hops vs noble hops

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Edan Z, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. Edan Z

    Edan Z Member

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    In all my batches so far, I adopted a strategy for saving $ on hops, by opting to bitter with a small amount of high alpha-acid hops at 60 and flavoring with noble (low alpha-acid) hops at 20. I have done this, mainly because it makes financial sense. You achieve the same level of bitterness with a much smaller amount of hops.

    Now that I have a few good batches under my belt, I'm wondering about the difference that it would make, if any, if instead of using a few grams of a high-alpha acid hop for bittering, I used a much larger amount of low-alpha acid hops to achieve the same IBUs.

    From what I have read, flavor wise, it makes little difference,since most of the flavor in the hops added at 60 will be boiled off anyway.

    However, since hop compounds are anti-bacterial and prevent spoilage. Would there be any benefits from using the larger amount of low alpha-acid hops? Are alpha-acids the main compounds responsible for the preservation effects beer? If there were other beneficial non-bittering compounds in hops, then one might see the upside of spending more money to hop the beer with lower alpha-acid hops in a larger quantity.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Are there any down sides to using larger amounts noble hops at the same IBUs?
     
  2. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    You'll experiment and find what you like but I've adopted a pretty consistent routine of essentially what you're suggesting at the top of your post. For beers using noble hops (European hop varieties) I bitter with Magnum which is a high-alpha noble variety. For beers using American hops for flavoring whether they're high or low AA varieties I use Warrior or Magnum depending on the hop profile. For American beers I opt for about 1/3, sometimes less of my IBUs from the 60 minute addition and a good dose at 20-15 minutes for flavor with pretty generous flameout/dryhop additions for aroma. For European style beers, it's at least 1/2 of the IBUs at the 60 minute mark with almost all the rest of the hops coming in at 20-15 minutes. If it's a Kolsch or something that benefits from a little floral hop in the aroma, I'll throw in a 5 minute or FO addition.
    The only time I'd use a lower AA hop at 60 is if I want to really nail a traditional style where something like Saaz, for instance is used throughout.
     
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  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    You'd have to throw in way more low alpha hops, which would soak up a bit more of your wort and possibly throw off some grassy flavors from all the vegetable matter that's in the boil. Seems to me you found more or less the right way to do like you first said
     
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  4. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I know brulosophey has done an exbeerment on this too. I brew very similar to JA and use MAgnum for Bittering you only need like 10g @60 to give you 20ibus or so.
     
  5. thehaze

    thehaze Active Member

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    #5 thehaze, Sep 5, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
    Even if you use more hops to bitter ( hop with lower AA% ), you will not save money. A bittering charge of a high AA% hop will suffice for most styles. 25 gr of Magnum will give around 30 IBUs and you can build from there, by adding late hops, flameout, etc.

    Magnum is a cheap, clean and excellent bittering hop. There are many like it: Warrior, Summit, Admiral, etc. I would not swap the bittering hop, unless you are forced to. As you also pointed out, a 60 minutes boil on the hops will yield no flavours.

    Save the lower AA%, more expensive and aromatic hops for late additions, whirlpool and dry hopping.

    Your final product will benefit greatly from those additions.
     
  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Also, if you're interested in saving money on hops, buy bulk. Even though I really, really agree with supporting one's local homebrewing supply establishment, sometimes you just gotta take advantage of internet sales, etc. Premium hops can cost over $3 an ounce and there's almost nothing that doesn't cost at least $2 an ounce. That adds up fast on a 5-gallon batch of heavily dryhopped IPA.

    To make a big impact on your cost, you can get close-out sale hops either by the pound or in 4 and 8 oz packages for as little as 50 cents a pound and sometimes less. Even current production popular hop varieties can be had for a dollar a pound. Find a couple of hops that will work for lot of your recipes and buy a pound or half pound of them. Then you can get other hops as needed for different styles and to change up recipes.

    Good examples would be hops used mostly for bittering but are often used in adding character to the late-hopping like Magnum, Warrior, etc... but also hops like Centennial, Simcoe, Chinook, Amarillo are easily high enough in alpha acids so that a few grams is all it takes for bittering and are really perfect for late hopping. Any number of hops can become your go-to, signature hop that allows you to build a good consistent hop flavor into your beers.
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    No need in boiling off all those nice (and expensive) hop oils. Bitter with Magnum, the only exception I can find is when your batch is so small measuring the tiny quantity of Magnum needed would be too difficult, flavor and aroma with the expensive stuff. Brewers have been using this method for, well, just about forever.

    Reminds me, I need to order some bulk Magnum from Yakima Valley....
     
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  8. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    I don't believe this is a 1 size fits all answer.
    Brewing true to style and or origin is how individual styles were developed and there are certainly nuances that come through in the finished beer from the bittering addition.
     
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  9. AsharaDayne

    AsharaDayne Active Member

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    I beg to agree. I haven't done any proper experiments, mind you, but I do find the bittering addition affects overall taste. The mere fact that Magnum and consorts are favoured as neutral bittering hops tells you that... Also for example I used Pacific Gem and Sorachi Ace for bittering and there was definitely some character there.
     
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  10. Beer_Pirate

    Beer_Pirate Active Member

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    +1 to that! I played around with a recipe and bittered a pale ale with citra instead of magnum (keeping all other additions constant) and the beers were pretty easy to tell apart.
     
  11. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    #11 J A, Sep 14, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
    I don't really think anyone is advocating bittering every batch of beer with Magnum or anything else. It's noted that keeping on hand and utilizing a hop like Magnum or Warrior for bittering most of your beers is a common practice and can save money, etc.

    Of course there's still flavor "left" in the hops after a 60 minute boil. Whatever you use will add at least a little something to the flavor profile of the beer.
     
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  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I've boiled hops in water for 60 minutes (just to keep any malt aroma out of the test). At the end of the test, Perle had a slightly minty scent still. Next time I test it, I'll boil in a sugar solution to see what happens (about 1.040 SG). But yes, there is still some hop contribution at the end of a long boil. It wasn't pleasant. But I'm willing to be proven wrong.
     
  13. 2osaviabe

    2osaviabe New Member

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    hmmm I even don't know((((((
     
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