Author Topic: What makes a good bittering hop?  (Read 2505 times)

Offline RudyBrewhouse

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What makes a good bittering hop?
« on: October 19, 2017, 03:08:52 PM »
I'm sorry if this has been discussed before. If most of the flavor of hops is denatured with a 60 minute (or longer) boil, why do some hops work better as a bittering hop?  Thanks in advance for your input.  Cheers!

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2017, 03:29:39 PM »
All hops will give bitterness if boiled for a long time like an hour or even just 15-30 minutes.

The bitterness comes from isomerization of so-called alpha and beta acids in the lupulin of the hops.  Isomerization occurs in the boil.  Isomerized beta acids provide a minor amount of bitterness, so the alpha is usually the only one considered by brewers, and reported on hop packages as a percentage (5%, 10%, etc.).  Often times a hop with high (>8%) alpha acid will be favored as a bittering hop just because you can use less of them to get the same level of bitterness as one that is say 3-5% alpha.

However this is even more complex because there are different types of alpha acids!  There's humulone, cohumulone, and some others.

The one of these that matters most to brewers is cohumulone, sometimes abbreviated Co-H.  Hops having a large degree of cohumulone will tend to have a much more robust and harsh bitterness than hops that have lower cohumulone.  For these reason, often times you will see people trying to find "low cohumulone" hops to avoid this harshness.  On the opposite side, for some IPAs, people will actually use high cohumulone hops on purpose to give their beer a sharper hop bite.

How do you know how much cohumulone is in your hops?  You have to research.  There are a few resources online.  Here's a couple decent ones (I'm sure there are better ones out there someplace too):

http://www.lugwrenchbrewing.com/2011/11/cohumulone-rages-by-hop-variety-hop.html

https://ychhops.com/varieties

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 03:33:50 PM by dmtaylor »
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Offline Stevie

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2017, 03:33:21 PM »
What Dave said. I like a little roughness to my bittering. Columbus and nugget are my current go to’s, but I think I’ll be getting a half pound of chinook for my next order

Online HoosierBrew

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2017, 03:38:00 PM »
A good bittering hop, as a rule, has fairly high AA%, to keep vegetal matter in check. Some hops prized for their aromas and flavors also work as bittering hops, but generally I like to save those for late additions and use hops like Magnum or Warrior (with not a lot of good flavor or aroma) to bitter, for a smooth bitterness in many beers.

Having said that, in American styles like AIPA I like to bitter with Chinook or Columbus (both varieties with nice flavor and aroma)because they contribute a more coarse bitterness that suits the style well IMO. My other exception - in German lagers I like to bitter most with Hallertau Mittelfrueh, as it (being a noble variety) will contribute subtle late hop character even if the only addition is a bittering addition IMO.

Clear as mud? Hopefully this helps some.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2017, 04:10:00 PM »
Some have shown the high cohomulone thing to be BS.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2017, 04:17:45 PM »
Some have shown the high cohomulone thing to be BS.

I hadn't heard that.  I suppose it's possible.

But perhaps we've all grown immune to it, too.  Anyone have an IPA lately?  Did your whole mouth go numb from one sip?  Didn't think so.  But it happens with the uninitiated, who probably are able to perceive bitterness a hell of a lot more sensitively than any beer nerds involved with cohumulone taste tests.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2017, 06:23:14 PM »
Some have shown the high cohomulone thing to be BS.

I hadn't heard that.  I suppose it's possible.

But perhaps we've all grown immune to it, too.  Anyone have an IPA lately?  Did your whole mouth go numb from one sip?  Didn't think so.  But it happens with the uninitiated, who probably are able to perceive bitterness a hell of a lot more sensitively than any beer nerds involved with cohumulone taste tests.

My Google fu is weak tonight. There are articles that say the original study did not measure IBUs. It turns out cohumulone is more soluble, so you get more IBUs. Beer s brewed to the same IBU level were indistinguishable hig( to low cohumulone.
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Offline RudyBrewhouse

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2017, 06:59:31 PM »
Thanks for all the great information everybody.  Especially about the cohumulone, I did not know that.  I think we homebrewers have an advantage over the bigger brewers where we can play around with different hops. 

My first lager was a munich dunkel, of which I bittered with Spalt (2.2 AA).  I wonder if I could have bittered with magnum for the same result.

I also smell experiments here, especially about the cohumulone.  Try the same IPA with different bittering hops, one with low cohumulone and one with high levels of cohumulone.  And perhaps try the same IPA with different hops with the same level of cohumulone. 

Thanks again everybody! 

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2017, 07:16:53 PM »
Too muc( of a low AA hop for bettering gets you tannins and vegetal.

There was a presentation a few years back at the Grand Rapids NHC, where they brewerd a low and high cohumulone beer to the same IBUS. Most could tell a difference.
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Offline denny

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2017, 09:11:11 AM »
Some have shown the high cohomulone thing to be BS.

Yep.  I'm thinking more and more in that direction.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2017, 11:48:25 AM »
Some have shown the high cohomulone thing to be BS.

Yep.  I'm thinking more and more in that direction.

I have seen several reports that the cohumulone is more soluble, adnmore gets isomorized. The original report that started the whole thing didn’t check IBUs. A couple have claimed if the IBUs are the same, you don’t notice.

One result of a search I did turned up this, which was interesting.
https://www.homebrewhedonist.com/cohumulone-alpha-acid/
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Offline denny

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2017, 12:20:45 PM »
Some have shown the high cohomulone thing to be BS.

Yep.  I'm thinking more and more in that direction.

I have seen several reports that the cohumulone is more soluble, adnmore gets isomorized. The original report that started the whole thing didn’t check IBUs. A couple have claimed if the IBUs are the same, you don’t notice.

One result of a search I did turned up this, which was interesting.
https://www.homebrewhedonist.com/cohumulone-alpha-acid/

Well, that would be validating since I've always thought that cohumulone did matter.  I've read enough to the contrary to start questioning it, but never done my own tests.  Maybe I don't need to and I can just go back to my old thinking.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2017, 04:56:47 PM »
Some have shown the high cohomulone thing to be BS.

Yep.  I'm thinking more and more in that direction.

I have seen several reports that the cohumulone is more soluble, adnmore gets isomorized. The original report that started the whole thing didn’t check IBUs. A couple have claimed if the IBUs are the same, you don’t notice.

One result of a search I did turned up this, which was interesting.
https://www.homebrewhedonist.com/cohumulone-alpha-acid/

Well, that would be validating since I've always thought that cohumulone did matter.  I've read enough to the contrary to start questioning it, but never done my own tests.  Maybe I don't need to and I can just go back to my old thinking.

It matters, as it is more soluble, so more iso-humulones. Several things I have read say that if you take that in into account, adjust to get the same IBU, then it doesn’t taste more harsh. More IBUs make for a harsher beer. I the things I have read.
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Offline blatz

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2017, 10:52:33 AM »
I use Magnum or Bravo the most - covers most American ales, and any lagers where there is a second kettle addition.

I use Apollo, Columbus or Bravo for bittering IPA/IIPA.  Apollo is one of the highest AA hops and gives a good bite.

Similar to Hoosierbrew, if its a lager and its only one addition, Mittlefruh is usually it.
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Offline chumley

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Re: What makes a good bittering hop?
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2017, 10:10:32 AM »
The greatest bittering hop of all time is Cluster.  Hands down.