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Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding
Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding a Lot About Yeast and Hops

If you just want to make beer, do so using a shortlist of ingredients: water, yeast, hops, and malted grain (probable

barley). These are the same ingredients used by big men. This short list looks simple. The truth is, beer making is

equally part of science and art; the last 2 are the secret ingredients of making beer. Simply giving someone an easel,

brush and paint will not make Rembrandt that person. If you want to make delicious beer you need to understand

the science behind the ingredients and how to combine them.

However, that perfect beer is all about balancing taste, aroma, bitterness, and mouthfeel. In an effort to achieve any

well-balanced beer, interpreting, and organizing a recipe is all about understanding this science and art.

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding a Lot About Yeast and Hops

Now some are taking their artistry in new directions by experimenting with ingredients that are outside the

traditional box. For example, some use pine, fir, and spruce shoots to add bitterness and some different aroma to

beer. But this practice began during the colonial period, so it is not entirely new. My son-in-law told me that there

are brewers who experiment with using grape skins for their tannins to add bitterness to beer.

When it comes to discussing beers, it wasn’t long before the conversation turned to hops. In the wine business it is

about grapes. And yeast is the mystery ingredient; yeast is more difficult to understand. Most of us have seen

pictures of acres of hops growing or the compelling shape of the hops cone, but we don’t see yeast because it’s a

single cell organism.

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding a Lot About Yeast and Hops

Hops exist primarily for imparting bitterness. There are 2 main acids in hops — alpha and beta. Alpha acid gives beer

a bitter taste profile. The second acid fills with bitterness. Historically, antimicrobial compounds in hops have helped

preserve beer. This was an important feature for sanitary and preservative factors at that time. It is hard to believe

that beer has existed since 4,000 BC and the recorded history of hops indicates that it was used in 700 AD and the

English drank beer with hops in 1400 AD.

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding a Lot About Yeast and Hops

As an aside, yeast has been around for an equally long time only it wasn’t discovered until the 1800’s.

In addition to hops there is a plethora of yeasts to choose from. The myriad types of hops and yeast strains excite the

imagination, together they offer unlimited flavor, aroma, bitterness, and mouthfeel options.

“Americans have been planting hops since the early colonial era, not just the number of varieties grown today. The

first commercial N. American hop production was a 45-acre garden established in 1648 to provide a brewery in the

Massachusetts Bay settlement ”, said Hops Growers of America. If you’re interested in more hop facts, consider

these:

889 plants or “hills” make up an acre of hops.

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding a Lot About Yeast and Hops

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding
Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding

In the Pacific Northwest, yields an average of approximately 2,000 pounds of dried hop cones per hectare in mature

hop yards, or over two pounds per hill (yields vary depending on variety and location).

Hops are usually sold in 200-pound bales (of course those are serious brewing operations).

A bale will yield between 135 – 800 barrels of beer (31 gallons per barrel), depending on the recipe.

Source: Hop Growers of America

When someone discovers that perfect beer, that experience is likely to be only temporary; personal taste preferences

change. As wine consumers, beer taste preferences change which motivates consumers to explore new offers. Plus,

the sheer size of the style variations will foster experiments for new beers. Who thinks Peanut Butter Stout or uses

pine shoots or grape skins to make beer?

Being Creative In Craft Brewing Is Understanding a Lot About Yeast and Hops

One change in progress is the non-alcoholic beer category. This trend doesn’t work well for wine, but we’ll see about

beer. Alcohol has an effect on taste and that is a big issue whether it is wine or beer.

As the old expression goes — Nothing is easy and if everyone will do it. Brewing is no exception, a slight

change/wrong step in the implementation or choice of to.

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