Tuesday Beer Trivia: Hops

Do you consider yourself a hop head? Are you in love with all things hoppy? Test out your hoppy chops with this week’s Tuesday Beer Trivia!

Hops are the small green cones that add bitterness, flavor and aroma to beer, offering a counterpoint to the sweetness of malt and any yeast character present. In recent beer history, brewers have been pushing the hoppy envelope and beer drinkers’ palates have been evolving to desire more and more hop bitterness and flavor.

After you take the Beer Trivia quiz below, scroll down to “Beer Trivia Answer Explanations” section to learn more about hops!

Beer Trivia Answer Explanations

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Question 1: Humulus lupulus, Humulus scandens, and Humulus yunnanensis all belong to the family Cannabaceae, but only Humulus lupulus produces the resinous cones that are useful to brewing.

Question 2: Humulones are part of the sticky resin that resides in the lupulin glands of female hop cones. Isomerization involves the structural rearranging of the humulone molecules, which dramatically increases their solubility in aqueous solutions, such as beer and wort. Isomerization, therefore, is the main chemical reaction responsible for the bitter flavor of beer brewed with hops.

Question 3: “Noble” is a historical and commercial term which has been assigned to four distinct hop varieties, though there is some debate as to what is and isn’t a Noble hop. Traditionally, Spalt, Saaz, Tettnanger and Hallertauer Mittelfruh are considered the Noble hop varieties.

Question 4: When boiled, alpha acids in hops are isomerized to create iso-alpha acids, which are the main source of bitterness in beer. Beta acids are completely insoluble in cold water and beer, and unlike alpha acids, do not isomerize to more water-soluble compounds when boiled.

Question 5: Roughly 300 compounds that likely contribute to hop aroma profiles have been identified by hop researchers. Some of these aromas are pleasant to humans, instilling fruity, floral and spicy notes, but others contribute off-aromas that can negatively impact the aromatics of beer when present at high levels.

Resources: The Oxford Companion to Beer and For the Love of Hops.

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