Thursday, December 14, 2006

MAKING BEER pt2 - 101

Welcome back to brewing for beginners. This week we look at the little ladies who give beer it’s wonderful, sensual character. No, not those large German women in foofy blouses at huge beer halls named Brun-Hilda mit da big boob-ies. Ja? Nein.
HOPS. The hop is a cone-like flower, of the same family as cannabis, which grows on very tall vines - actually they are called bines, probably so they are not connected with wine making - and I referred to them as the ladies because it is the female flower that produces the bittering quality which beer requires. This theme continues after bottling with the male drinker developing a greater yearning for the female flower the more the amber flows.


The HOPS give beer several remarkable qualities. First is flavour. There are hundreds of varieties of hops, all of which will impart flavour to varying degrees. Second is bitterness. The hop resins are an oily substance stored in the cone and, put fairly simplistically, they are what gives our beer their distinctive bitterness. Again, some varieties are better, or bitter, than others. Others again, have a nice balance of both.
It is up to the brewer to ensure the right balance in order to create a specific beer style or a variation within. Some beers are heavier on the hop flavour side and others lean more to the bittering end. To complicate the situation even further, different HOPS can be added, at different times during the brewing, for varying durations thus creating eleventy-eight kabillion different combinations of beer tastes.


And you thought brewing beer was a ‘ just add water ‘ thing.

Now the next important hop-quality is the most valuable as far as the brewing industry is concerned. You see, before the discovery of hops for brewing, the beer needed to be drunk quickly - a tradition still continued in many drinking dens today - or the beer would spoil. The brewer, to avoid the spoiling, would need to up the alcohol levels to fight the good fight against harmful bacteria within the beer. He would do this by increasing the malt content. Then along comes HOPS with remarkable antiseptic and preserving abilities - as well as the bitterness and the flavour things we spoke of earlier. So the brewer now required less malt. And therefore, more profit. Or was able to create a less expensive product. Joy for the workers!

So there you have HOPS. Grown in only a few regions around the world due to their specific climate needs and one of the reasons that beer tastes as good as it does. Although hops have been around for centuries, it is not clear exactly when they were used in brewing. The Jewish slaves in ancient Babylon wrote of a “strong drink made from hops” which they believed aided against leprosy. And even today, beer won’t cause leprosy. Some droopage may occur, however, with prolonged use.


NEXT WEEK - YEAST

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi guys. Great site. Would love a picture of you both naked for my bar. You're gay aren't you? Hope so. Here's to beer and boy nudity.

Beer Bloke said...

Dear Anonymous - if that really is your real name, really.

Thanks for your feedback. I will speak to Dr Lager about your interesting, if not entirely beer related request, but I think he may have reservations.Good to see you attempting to dispel the misconceptions about beer drinking and gays. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Maybe in the future there will be a market for our beer and we can promote our brand with racy labels like those crazy Belgians do with there Rubbel Sexy Lager which has strategically placed scratch panels over the rude bits. If Dr Lager and I can afford the extra scratch material necessary to cover our tockleys we may come up with a Peccker Pale Ale or a Footlong Stout. Something catchy like that.

Cheers,
Prof. Pilsner