Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Yes, hop additions again

Not quite finished kicking this particular dog senseless yet.

It's a long, detailed quote today. I would break it up into more manageable chunks, but I'm having arsing issues. Oh go on then. I hate seeing such a big chunk of text. The source is "A systematic handbook of practical brewing", by E.R. Southby, published in 1885.

"The period at which it is most advisable to add the hops to the wort in the copper is a point on which there is a great diversity of opinion and practice. In Burton the whole of the hops which it is intended to add, are introduced before the copper comes to the boil, and are consequently boiled during the whole time.

Many brewers however prefer to add only a portion of the hops at first, and to reserve some of the finest new hops, which they only introduce into the copper shortly before its contents are turned out. This latter plan undoubtedly enables the brewer to retain a much larger proportion of the fine aroma of the hop in the beers, without an excessive amount of bitter, than when the whole of the hops are put in at first. When, therefore, a brewer has to use a water which tends to the rapid solution of the principles of the hop, I advise him to only introduce a portion of the hops when he commences to boil the worts, and to reserve some of his best new hops, and only add them to the contents of the copper fifteen to thirty minutes before he is going to turn out , This plan will also often enable the brewer to dispense with dry hopping, at any rate in the case of those ales which are to come quickly into consumption."

Some few brewers boil the wort for a certain time before adding any of the hops. I think this practice is only advantageous when for any reason it is found necessary to boil the worts for an excessively long time, or say more than two hours.

So Southby is a two addition man. First lot before the start of the boil, the second 15 to 30 minutes before the end of the boil. Interesting that he sees late hop additions as a possible substitute for dry-hopping.

Now onto the really important question: should you boil hops twice?
"When the whole of the wort of one brewing is to be boiled at once, no other questions can arise on the point I am treating than those I have already disposed of, but in the much more common case of about half the wort being boiled first, and then the second half, a first and second wort being thus made, there is the further question whether the whole of the hops are to be boiled in the first wort, and then returned into the second wort, or whether the hops are to be divided between the two worts.

In deciding this question several points have to be taken into consideration, viz.: the total amount of hops that are to be used ; the character of the water as a hop solvent; and the quality of the malt liquor it is intended to produce.

The largest amount of soluble matter is extracted from the hops by boiling the whole of them in the first wort, and returning them all to the second; and for black beers, as well as common running ales, this plan is almost universally adopted.

The harder the water the less solvent power it has on the hops, and consequently boiling the whole of them twice over is not so liable to produce a harsh bitter in the beers brewed with hard as in those brewed with soft water.

Twice boiling the whole of the hops is admissable with hard waters in even the finest class of mild ale where the proportion does not exceed 10 or 12 lbs. per quarter of malt used. Where, however, 15 lbs. and upwards of hops to the quarter of malt are employed, as in the finest class of Burton pale ales, twice boiling is only admissable when the ales are intended for export, and their consequent age before consumption will be sufficient to soften the harshness of the bitter.

In pale ales which are intended to be consumed without going through the peculiar stage of secondary fermentation, which occurs in season-brewed ales during the later summer months, twice boiling the whole of the hops renders the bitter too harsh to please most palates. In this latter case a portion only of the hops, generally from one-half to two-thirds, is boiled with the first wort; the remainder are boiled with the second wort, and none are boiled twice.

With waters having more solvent powers, and for light bitter ales which are to come quickly into consumption, it is often advisable to boil the hops only once, even when not more than 10 lbs. per quarter are used."

That's a clear answer: sometimes. If you're brewing a black beer, or your water is hard, or where you're not hopping that heavily, . But only boil your hops once if your water is soft, or you're brewing a Light Bitter, or using a ton of hops.

Here's an alternative approach:

"Another plan of mitigating the harshness of the bitter arising from twice boiling hops, and which has considerable merit, is that of boiling the new hops only in the first wort, and returning these into the second wort, with the addition of the unboiled old hops or yearlings.

Various other modifications, such as returning the hops from the first wort after the second wort has boiled for one hour, will suggest themselves to the experienced brewer. It is impossible to lay down hard and fast lines on this subject, as the taste of various localities differs enormously in the amount of bitter which it will tolerate, and even greater divergencies arise from the quality of the water and the length of time during which it is the practice to keep the beer before consumption. Every brewer must use his own judgment, and study to please the palate of the majority of his customers, remembering always that long boiling economises hops but gives the beers a harsh bitter, and that with short boiling more hops must be used, but with a corresponding improvement in the delicacy of the flavour of the beers produced, and in their keeping qualities."

Only boil the best new hops twice. Seems a bit odd. Wouldn't you want to boil the best hops the least? Ultimately, though, brewers should pay attention to how fussy their customers are. If they'll put up with twice-boiled hops, go for it because it will save you money.

One of the reasons for boiling hops twice was to extract the sweet wort they had absorbed. But there were other ways of achieving that:

"As the hops from the first wort when drained in the hop-back still retain a large quantity of strong wort, some means have to be employed to avoid as much as possible a loss from this source, when the hops are not returned to the second wort.

In Burton the usual practice has been for many years to subject the hops to hydraulic pressure, or in small breweries to that of a screw press, and this plan is now generally adopted in breweries throughout the country.

A simpler plan is to run the second wort into the hopback, without removing the hops from the first wort. If the whole is allowed to stand for a few minutes before running to the coolers or refrigerators, the hops from the first wort are thoroughly washed by the weak second wort, and no more loss arises as far as the saccharine constituents of the beer are concerned than if the whole of the hops had been boiled twice.

One objection to this plan is, that the hopbacks in many breweries are too small to hold and efficiently drain such a large mass of hops; another is that it involves leaving the hops exposed to the air in the hopback for some two and a half to three hours. I am well aware of, and have always insisted upon, the great danger arising from this exposure of the hops for any lengthened period; but I scarcely think it will be found that even three hours' exposure under ordinary conditions will produce any appreciable evil.

Sparging the hops in the hopback, or in a special vessel like a mash tun, is a plan which has much to recommend it, and is one which I think should be more generally adopted."
Both of these methods - pressing hops and hop sparging - turn up regularly in brewing logs. Truman's Burton brewery and William Younger both pressed their hops. Now where did I see hop sparging? Lees. Yes, Lees records mention hop sparging. Others, too, but I can't quite recall which at the moment.

"When the hops are to be boiled only once in two or more coppers of wort, I generally divide them so as to give about an equal weight per barrel to each copper, but I boil the newest hops and those containing the largest proportion of oily matters in the strong first wort, and the older and weaker hops in the weaker worts. The strong wort has a greater power of absorbing the more valuable portion of the hop extract, and the weaker wort the coarser bitters. If only one quality of hops is used, a rather larger proportion should be boiled with the stronger wort, but this inequality must not be carried too far, and at least one-third of the hops should always be boiled in the weak wort."
"A systematic handbook of practical brewing", by E.R. Southby, 1885, pages 307-311.

Is it true that stronger worts absorb the goodness from hops better? I though it was the exact opposite. That weaker worts could absorb more.

I can't remember when I last had so much hopping detail fiun. Definitely not time to stop yet.


Gary Gillman said...

I find in modern beers, including many craft beers, the problem is not enough hops. The malt aspect in the better quality beers is usually quite satisfactory. It is the hops where they fall down, some renowned specialties apart (e.g., Urquell, Guinness FES).

Still, even in reduced form, it is interesting to compare hop flavours in modern beers (I'm thinking here mostly of mass market products). Some have a floral nose and taste. Some prefer a neutral, mineral-like bitterness. Some like that German hop (Hallertau?) earthy/barnyard taste. Each has a distinct hop footprint but rarely enough hops for my taste.

If there is one bugaboo I have about modern industrial brewing and many craft beers too, it is the idea that hop levels should be barely detectable, the idea being presumably that more people will drink the stuff.

In fact I believe the opposite is true, if you take away what makes the product really beer, it loses distinctiveness and people will drink less of it over time. I believe this is happening to the American Budweiser, not the Lite maybe (which is sort of a category on its own today, a cooler-like drink with less ethanol) but the regular Bud and other major U.S. brands. Ditto the big lagers in U.K.

Amp up those hops, brewers, show the kind of care Southby did on how they affect palate, and people will drink more mass produced lager, not less.


brewguru said...

Ron: To answer your question about hop utilization, hop utilization efficiency is generally higher with lower gravity worts, however, there is a limit to how much alpha acids can be absorbed by the wort. It is gravity dependent.
Higher gravity worts can absorb more alpha acids, and therefore can be bittered at much higher levels than lower gravity worts, despite lower utilization efficiency.


Ironman said...

I have to agree that in modern industrial brewing hops are sorely neglected both in their bittering and flavor aspects. A brewer can go too far the other way as well. Many American brewers prefer to clobber the drinker with a hop hammer. This hammer is usually citrusy and I've grown tired of it. I don't like my beer to push the envelope. I prefer beers that use hops, and other flavors judiciously. I like balance. Right now I'm drinking many Winter Warmers and I'm enjoying the malty aspects to them.