In the old days in Australia, beer was beer. Hops provided bitterness, offsetting the body and sweetness of malt, and perhaps adding subtle aromas and flavours, too. But the rise of specialty beers means we can now enjoy a wide spectrum of hops aromas and flavours.
The diversity comes partly from the varieties of hops brewers use, but also from the brewing technique.
Traditionally, bittering hops were effectively cooked during boiling, a process that emphasises bitterness in the hops oils. But adding hops late during the boil (late hopping) carries more of the aromas and flavours through to the final product. You can see this used to good effect in the Cooper’s 150 Celebration Ale reviewed recently.
Dry hopping (adding hops during the fermentation rather than boil), captures even more of the plant’s flavours – demonstrated deliciously in the passionfruit-like character in the popular Little Creature’s Pale Ale.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 4 July 2012 in The Canberra Times