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There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly opened can of beer and some meat on the grill. It’s all you can think about when the dog days of summer are in full swing. If you’re lucky, you and the family will be invited to a BBQ for an extended family gathering where everyone knows everyone, and everyone gets to meet new people. Or you’ll go with friends. And you’ll drink beer. And the beer will help you deal with the summer heat.
There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly opened can of beer and some meat on the grill.
But the truth is, not all beer and meat are created equal. Sure, a cheap, easy beer can be a nice way to kick back on a hot day, but the taste can be pretty bad. So what beer should you drink on a hot day?
The answer is beer brewed with hops. That is, beer with a taste like hops. Hop bittering agents are bitter chemicals found in the flowers of the hops plant, and they give the beer its distinctive, pungent flavor. But the best beers are not made with just one hop, they can be made with as many as ten different kinds of hops. This makes a big difference. Each hop has a different flavor and each beer that includes a different hop can be very different from one another. Some are sweet, some are bitter, some are light and spicy, and some are strong and bitter.
When the best brewers in the country are working with all of these different types of hops, what can they do to create a beer with a really unique flavor and aroma? There’s no way of predicting what combination of hops will make that happen, but this is where the art of hop selection comes in.
So, what are the basic hop varieties? Most of the world’s best beers are brewed with varieties of the Northern Brewer hop, but there are more than a dozen other hop varieties available today. Let’s look at some of them.
Bittering hops are the hops that give bitterness to the beer, and most of these are also responsible for creating the typical “malty” flavor that is found in most beers. American hops are typically used for bittering beers and they have a very distinctive flavor when they’re used for this purpose.
Alpha Acid: The amount of alpha acids present in a hop can be measured and it is this that is used in calculating the final amount of the bitterness. A typical bittering hop is 10 to 15 percent alpha acid. A hop with high alpha acid may be used for bittering a large amount of beer, but a lower alpha hop may be used for bittering a smaller amount.
Bittering hops are the hops that give bitterness to the beer, and most of these are also responsible for creating the typical “malty” flavor that is found in most beers.
Pilsner is typically brewed with American lager hops, like Hallertau Mittelfrueh or Cascade, which are very bitter and add to the bitterness of the beer.
In Germany, German bitter is a traditional German hop that’s still used in a lot of the country’s most popular beer. It has a lot of spicy, herbal notes and is used for its ability to improve head retention and carbonation.
Hallertau Mittelfrueh is a well-loved hop in Germany and it is used extensively for bittering. It is thought to have originated in Germany, though it’s thought to be a cross between a German Hallertau and a German lager hop called Tettnanger. It has a floral, spicy aroma and is good for use with German styles of beer.
The Tettnanger is another German lager hop and it has a more fruity, spicy aroma and is good for use with German styles of beer.
Cascade is another very popular bittering hop, and is the main hop used in the American pale ale style. It’s characterized by being light and grassy, and has been widely used by breweries to add bitterness to the American Pale Ale style.
Saaz is a German hop that is widely used in traditional Bavarian beers like Helles, Munich Dunkel and Doppelbock. It has a light fruity aroma, and is especially good for beer with low alcohol.
Aroma and flavor hops are hops that provide aroma and flavor in the beer. The flavors can be fruity, citrusy, or herbaceous. Many aroma hops also provide the same flavor notes, which is why it’s important to know a beer’s hop profile when it’s being evaluated.
In Germany, German aromatic is used for the German styles, and is very similar to the aroma hops used in American craft beers. American aroma hops are more floral, but they’re also usually lower in alpha acid, which can be important when a beer has high gravity.
Hallertau Mittelfrueh is a very well-loved hop, and is used extensively for aromatic and flavor in German styles of beer. It has a floral, spicy aroma, and is good for use with German styles of beer.
Hersbrucker is a traditional German aroma hop that’s similar to the aroma varieties of German lager, like Hallertau Mittelfrueh. It has a citrusy, slightly spicy aroma and is good for use in German beer styles.
Lupulin is a hop used for flavor and aroma in craft beer, especially in the American IPA style, but it’s also used in some German lagers. Lupulin has a very strong, sweet, citrusy flavor and aroma, and is very popular among craft brewers.
Fuggles is an American hop that is used in American IPAs, and it has a strong, fruity flavor and aroma. Fuggles is very similar to German aromatic hops.
Citra is an Australian hop that is used for its aroma and flavor in American IPAs