Why I Love Hops by Dave Hoops

The Growler Story Here

In this edition of Deep Thoughts With Dave Hoops, I talk about one of  my favorite beer ingredients—hops.

Reprinted from the Dec/Jan 2013 issue of The Growler Magazine

My name is Dave Hoops, Master Brewer at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota. The hops used in brewing are the female flowers of the hop plant, Humulus Lupulus, a perennial producing vine that is trained to grow up strings on trellises. Hops are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, where they impart a bitter, tangy, grassy, or fruity flavor.

Once a year during harvest season, some of the luckier brewers in America get to travel to Yakima, Washington to welcome the hop harvest. The Yakima Valley is one of the most fertile and significant hop producing regions in the United States. The brewers meet with growers, check out the hop harvest, and select the lots to brew with for the next year at hop selection.

Mature hops are harvested with combine-like machines that travel along the crop rows cutting the vines, or bines, at the bottom and top. The hops are laid in trailers and moved to the picking facility. Where the hop cones are separated from the vines. The remaining vines, along with stems and leaves sifted from picked cones, are removed to the composting area.

Some of our favorite techniques for using hops are…

•             Mash Hopping: adding hops to the water we mash the grain in

•             First Wort Hopping: adding hops pre-boil, during the wort collection process

•             Late-Boil Hopping: adding the majority of a hop dose for a batch near the finish of the boil

•             Whirlpool Hopping: adding hops after the boil during the whirlpool cycle

•             Fermentation Dry Hopping: adding hops during vigorous fermentation

•             Pre-Chill Dry Hopping: adding hops before we chill the finished beer to move to conditioning

•             Conditioning Dry Hopping: adding hops to beer that is maturing cool

We use many of these techniques in our North Shore Style beers—sometimes all of them—depending on the recipe. The results are fun and exciting. My goal is for you to be able to smell the fresh hop aromas when the glass is sitting on the bar in front of you.