Water, malts, yeasts, and hops. These are the main ingredients we use to craft beer.
Hops were not always used in brewing. In earlier times, brew masters used herb mixes to add flavor to beer. The first recorded hops used in beer were by German Benedictine Monks and Hildegard von Bingen.
To learn more about Hildegard von Bingen, see our article “Happy Women’s Day.”
Hops are plants that belong to the Cannabis family, which may surprise many people. The female flowers of the hops have a conical shape and are rich in resins and oils.
In brewing, the resins are used to impart bitterness and counterbalance the sweetness of the malts.
Oils are used to impart characteristic aromas. Currently, specialists in hops breeding are producing incredible varieties by using natural selection enhancements, similar to methods used by tulip breeders. The result is a new array of aromas ranging from fruity melon, mandarin, pineapple to spicy aromas like ginger and even floral and herbal. Using hops to achieve the right level of bitterness and balance to the aroma profile is genuine art.
Apart from providing bitterness and aroma, another reason to add hops is to preserve because hops have anti-bacterial properties. In addition, hops are also essential to stabilize beer foam. In other words, to keep a nice foam on the top.
Depending on the beer style, hops might be used in relatively minor amounts. An example of this is traditional Weizen beer; note the bitterness level is low. On the other hand, high hops content is used in IPA recipes, which produces more bitterness.
Yet, creativity is the rule in craft brewing. We have created our seasonal summer ’21 release, “Fermento Mistral,” with exotic aromas from hops but without the added bitterness. Keeping it more in line with a less bitter, extra refreshing Weizen beer.
Do hoppy beers match well with food? Yes, the more hoppy beers, like IPA’s, fit particularly well with Asian and Mexican cuisine, spicy hot or not. Especially with Curry and Curcuma dishes. On the other hand, IPA’s pair well with white chocolate with spicy biscuits like Basler Leckerli and chocolate cakes. To learn more about pairing beer with chocolate, see our previous article, “The Godly Combination of Chocolate and Beer.”
The summer is underway, now is the perfect time to explore different tastes and aromas of hops in beers. Pairing the correct beer with food can open your world to new experiences. So, whether you are travelling this summer or not, be adventurous and try something new.