Does the bittering hop really matter?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jmcnamara, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I saw another topic here that got me thinking on this. I'd like to buy another round of hops in bulk, and I've been using the rest of the Columbus i have in pretty much all my recent recipes to clear out the freezer. Strictly a 60 min addition, sometimes with other varieties later in the boil, sometimes not.
    Is there any particular reason (other than sticking to style / regional ingredients) to use one bittering hop over another? if it's going to be boiled for 60+ mins, most flavor and aroma would be gone so it shouldn't really matter, right?
     
  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I use Columbus for bettering, also CTZ so it all depends on how high the Co-Humulone is, the higher this % is the harsher the taste using as a bittering hop so less is needed

    ALPHA ACIDS: 8.8% (10 year range: 6.8 to 11.5%)
    BETA ACIDS: 4.0% (10 year range: 2.9 to 5.6%)
    COHUMULONE: 40%
     
  3. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    I don't have much experience with different bittering hops, but I can definitely say that the difference between Mganum and Polaris as a bittering hop is significant.
    I have been brewing pretty much the same recipe over and over again with only small if any differences for a while now. Partially to try to achieve the best possible version of the recipe for my own tastes, and partially to find out what the difference in aroma, taste, attenuation, etc, etc, etc is when I change one ingredient or one step in the process.
    I have been using exclusively Magnum hops for bittering and a 60 min boil, until I ran out of Magnum and had to use something else for a couple of brews. I substituted with Polaris, because I had it on hand and it has a fairly high alpha acid content. It worked well, but the flavor was definitely different.
    btw, I have brewing a fairly light IPA with german aroma hops, which are fairly light and less citrusy than then american varieties, so the flavor difference may well be more noticeable than in a darker/maltier beer or APA.
     
  4. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    so, if i understand you correctly sba, you preferred the magnum in this case? why did you not like polaris (harsh, vegetal, etc?)
    also, since you had polaris on hand, i'm assuming you use it in other brews. what styles have you found are more suited to polaris?
    sorry for all the questions, but i'm trying to cut down on costs and amount of ingredients on hand where i can. it's sounding like either magnum or columbus might be a silver bullet solution, or at least as close to one as possible

    much appreciated everyone :D
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'm reading that the bittering hop does matter and my experience seems to bear this out. I love using Magnum for its clean bitterness; however, German pilsners use noble hops to bitter! Perle would be my go-to there. English beers have a distinctive hop flavor from the bittering hops. In cases where I've made no flavor or aroma additions, I get hop flavor. Even the basic premise of first-wort hopping is that the initial hop charge adds flavor. I haven't done any tests around the idea of different bittering hops but I may, as everything I can read indicates they do make a difference in flavor.
     
  6. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    So you're saying we have an excuse to do some trial batches in the name of science?
    Like we really needed an excuse...
     
  7. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    a rule of thumb is the harsher bittering hop will have less flavor in the beer, the less harsh can have flavor in most beers just because their mostly used in a lite or session type of beers which makes it possible for you to taste more flavors, so if your going for a 3 or 4 hop beer with a high IBU it doesn't really matter what you use for bittering, the finishing hops will be the flavor
     
  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    (cue Thomas Dolby....) Science!
     
  9. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    hey, sorry for the late reply.
    I definitely wouldn't say I didn't like Polaris and I am sure I will use it again for bittering some time in the future. I do prefer Magnum right at the moment though, because as Nosybear pointed out, it provides a very clean bitter that allows me to concentrate on tasting the differences in the malts and flavor/aroma hops as I try different variations of my "standard" recipe.
    ....which happens to be an IPA brewed more toward the APA style but using only german malts and hops (I cheat with the yeast and use US-05 ;) ). Pretty much just ~6.7kg of malt, 23L mash H2O, 14lL sparge H2O, 25g bittering hops and 200g flavor/aroma additions.
    Like I said, the variations are small (e.g. I did 4 variations in a row, swapping only the base malt: Pale Ale, Munich, Vienna and Pilsner) so I can identify what the differences in the resulting brews are.
    Polaris just happened to be a new hop on the market that I played around with quite a lot for past couple years and happened to still have quite a bit of in the freezer. It definitely has its (good) uses, but if you are looking to save costs, go with something like magnum for bittering. The newer specialty hops tend to be, at least here in Germany, a lot more expensive and much less versatile.
     
  10. newmanwell

    newmanwell Active Member

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    Maybe try an experiment where there is only a 60 minute addition for 4-5 different beers, same IBUs but with different hops (with the same grain bill).
     
  11. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    that is a crap ton of flavor/aroma hops sba, at least more than what i'm used to dealing with.

    and i am always down for experiments shaun! my buddy and i just did something similar, but it was all late additions (20, 15, 10, and 5 mins). We'll have to try it from the other side of things next
     
  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I might propose that as an experiment for our homebrew club. Would be interesting to find out.
     
  13. newmanwell

    newmanwell Active Member

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    I might try the same with my club. I would suggest something not strongly flavored, maybe a blonde ale or kolsch.
     
  14. newmanwell

    newmanwell Active Member

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    Might I add that it would be very important to have the same source water and water treatments.
     
  15. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    when i do tests, i typically just use 100% of one base malt. a recent one i did had 50/50 2row and wheat, but that's still a fairly simple grain bill.
    I'll also add that a simple clean yeast will help minimize any background distracting flavors (or at least it won't add anything)
    it's a cheap experiment that way, still drinkable, and really lets the hops / hop schedule shine
     
  16. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    yeah...it's a bit of a long story how I have come to using that much, and the road to discovery that I am on gets longer by every brew :roll:
    Long story short, german hops aren't all that intense in aroma and I am going through a no-dry-hopping phase, so my current technique is chuck a ton of hops in a the end of the boil to get the flavor and aroma I am going for.
    Flavor with Mandarina Bavaria works pretty well with this technique, aroma......still a bit weak.
     

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