Saving All Hops for Dry Hop

Dennis,At last year’s NHC in Philly both Brad Smith and Stan Hieronymus were advocates of not adding any hops mid-boil; in other words only add hops up front for bittering and then the end of boil for flavor/aroma (and maybe dry hop too). I had a fairly long discussion with Stan when he signed my Hops book on this topic. His line of reasoning was that hops which are boiled for any significant time will lose all of the essential oils and consequently lose ‘flavor’.Do you have an opinion on what is ‘added’ by the hops that are boiled for the last 25, 20, or 15 minutes of the boil?Cheers!Jack
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Hi Jack,I think that is better advice for a commercial brewery since the beer sits in the kettle / whirlpool for so long while being moved through the chiller and being transferred to the fermentor. Although there is a well respected brewery within an hour of me (Peekskill) that predominantly does just that and, IMHO, there beers fall victim to the “loads of aroma but lacking in flavor” department too.On a homebrew level (where our batch sizes are small and chilling rates are fast) I would say that they are giving the best advice with regards to maximizing aroma.It’s my understanding that some hop oils (the “essential oils”) are much more volatile than others. Volatility obviously is what makes them excellent aroma contributors but is also what allows them to be flashed off quickly by extended exposure to boiling wort. The hydrocarbon fraction of these oils are quickly flashed off due to the heat.Isomerization of alpha acids and oxidation of beta acids are clearly known to be the main sources of the bitterness component of flavor. As for the other components of flavor, I’m not entirely sure of the exact mechanics behind it. I always read that hop oils, oxidation, fermentation / yeast contact play a role.Could it be possible that a longer contact time with boiling wort somehow does a better job of extracting the hop oils that aren’t very volatile?Since aroma tends to dominate flavor (and as most say makes up 80-90% of what we “taste”), could it be that boiling off some of the volatile hop oils actually allows for more taste perception? That last one might sound crazy, but I sometimes feel like I get more “flavor” out of my hoppy beers after they age a bit and the aroma tapers off! No science behind it, just an observation on my part.Perhaps flavor is really just a half way point between bitterness and aroma in the sense that it requires partial isomerization of alpha acids and the partial reduction of aromatic volatile oils?Moving beyond the kettle, I tend to observe that having a slightly higher FG and/or having a bit of low lovibond crystal malt in my grain bill actually helps the hop flavor to “pop” more. Something about the contrast that seems to have an enhancing effect. Of course the lowest FG and least amount of crystal of course maximizes the bitterness component of hop flavor. So maybe I get more hop flavor “pop” from the slightly higher FG and low lovibond crystal simply because it’s curbing the overall perceived bitterness? Kind of like how FWH offers a smoother bitterness that people often feel adds a better “flavor” than a traditional bittering addition?That brings up another point……length of contact time btw the vegetal components of hops and boiling wort. While most (myself included typically) try to avoid pulling some vegetal flavors into the beer due to extended dry hop contact time, I actually take it one step further. I like to also reduce the contact time of my hot side hop additions. My normal strategy when making hoppy beers is to actually skip doing a 90 or 60 minute addition and increase my 25 minute addition to get the ibu’s I want. Definitely more expensive, but I like the flavor it produces myself. It’s nice when I can turn the economy of scale that often works against homebrewers to my advantage vs. the big boys. Could you imagine how much it would cost them to do the same? Surely now you’d say that Stan’s suggestion would provide the ultimate reduction in potential hot side vegetal flavor extraction. That begs the question though: Perhaps a little of those flavors in the hot side mix actually contributes to what we call hop flavor?

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