Hopping Out Creativity

Here’s a post I wrote awhile back but just haven’t gotten up.

Picture borrowed from KalamaBrew

Picture borrowed from KalamaBrew


Am I the only one annoyed with all the over hopped beers out lately? It seems like every time I walk down the beer isle there’s a new pale ale out with some weird name meant to convey how hoppy it is. When I got into homebrewing it was because it allowed me to not only make beer I enjoyed drinking for a cheaper price, but it also let me get creative. I love adding strange spices, or weird combinations in order to see where it takes the beer. Now it seems to be the only way to get a beer not overloaded with hop bitterness, or hop flavors.

 I understand some people are just hop heads, and they enjoy these beers. What are the rest of us supposed to drink though? Sure I can get my regular sixer of Anchor Steam, or grab a bomber of Oatis. But part of me wants to feel the excitement of constantly trying new beers in my favorite styles. In fact if it wasn’t for my new found enjoyment of wheat beer I don’t think I would have tried much in the way new beers this last few months. Even some of the winter seasonals I tried were on the hoppy side this year, which is unusual.

 Another thing that bothers me are the hop gimmicks. Take Sierra Nevadas hop torpedo. Essentialy they created a french press for beer. But instead of using coffee, they use hops. This is their new marketing ploy. Somehow they are able to extract infinitely more hop flavors then everyone else because they dry hop this way. I say just toss the hops in the brite tank and let them sit a little longer. Or what about the “we hop our beer x amount of times, which is x amount more then others.” Any homebrewer knows that hopping is about utilizing the essential oils and alpha acids, and that the hoping schedule is meant to extract a certain amount of bitterness and/or flavor from the hop. So why would more then five hop editions make beer better?

 What they fail to mention is that the first four or five editions are fairly standard. I do around three with my homebrew. The hop additions outside that are usually layering different hop flavors. Do they really make the beer better? Well they do if you like that stuff. They certainly make the beer more costly to make. It’s up to you if you think the price of the beer improves the flavor.

Hops allow brewers a greater range of freedom with their beer since there are infinite ways to layer their flavors. This is an awesome thing. The problem is it seems most brewers are stuck on hop experimentation. I’d love to see more gruits, or beers with experimental spices. What about a beer that experiments with the malt to a radical degree like their doing with hops? I’m all for experimentation, would just like to see more of it in other categories.

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