What Are Hops in a Beer?

We can all reminisce about a point in our lives where we had a cold delectable beer with just the right level of bitterness. And while it wasn’t overpowering other flavors and aromas, it stood out on its own.

In most cases, that bitter taste (which is what regular folks associate it with) in beers comes from hops, which not only provides that sharp sensation in our mouths, but also the refreshing whiff.

Defining Hops Scientifically

According to © Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., a hop possesses the following characteristics and attributes:

  1. Shape: They are similar-looking to a cone
  2. Color: They’re green in color on the outside
  3. Scientific name: Humulus Lupulus
  4. What it is: A hop is a plant
how a beer hop plant looks like
How a hop plant looks like. Photo credit: RitaE from Pixabay.

How Brewers Use Hops

The primary reason why brewers are interested in hops is because of what contains within. Inside a cone are several sort-of-a-circular-shaped tiny pods that are called “lupulin.”

It is lupulin that ultimately gives out the bitter relish in beers, along with the enticing smell and piquancy.

Utilizing hops to make a beer is a complex & skillful art. And given that there are unique types of hops (think unique kinds of grapes for wine-making), the end product, the beer that is, is filled with excitement, appetizing anticipation, and some impatience because one simply cannot wait any longer to get a sip.

At the end of the day, brewers carefully engineer the amount of hops they use, the types of hops they use, and when they use the hops in the entire beer-making cycle (a.k.a, timing; for example, while the brew kettle is more hot or cold). The whole operation is governed by how the beer would taste, look, and feel. This is another reason we face so many beer choices to purchase from, as many brewing companies have their own idea of how they want to make their beer.

What Are the Different Types of Hops?

As per KEGWORKS, there are many varieties and sub-varieties; however, as a general rule of thumb, hops are usually identified by their geographic location. Conspicuously, the three well-known hops are:

  • American Hops: these are from the United States
  • Noble Hops: these originate from the Czech Republic and Germany
  • English Hops: from England

Commercially, there are easily more than 50 hop types in use.

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Closing It Up

When it comes to the essential traits of a beer, that is, flavor, feel, and aroma, hops play a significant role in defining & contributing to how that would come to fruition.

From dozes of types of hops in use commercially, these green-looking-cone-shaped flowers/plants are indispensable to a brewer.

Next time you try a hoppy beer, remember to be grateful for the massive undertaking behind it.

Expert sources