Posted on September 22nd, 2010
More and more I find myself enamored with the smell of hops. Now, I’m no hophead, but there is something about dumping Amarillo pellets into the brew kettle or manning the hop back that really gets to me. Although I may go for a malty porter more often than a sharp IPA, the utilization of hops while brewing has really got my mind—and palate—intrigued.
As I’ve learned more in the brewery, I’ve discovered that I’m relaxing a bit and really starting to enjoy the work. I feel that a lot of this stems from being able to take everything in since I’m no longer stress over little things. For example, where I used to worry that I incorrectly weighed out the wrong amount of hops, I now just stand back and watch the bitter green cones saturate with sticky-sweet wort and just enjoy the experience. I’ve noticed that my not sweating the small stuff, I’m also finding many new aspects of beer that I enjoy, like hops.
My best hop experience actually occurred a few weeks ago. One Tuesday morning our head brewer showed up to work with 56-pounds of fresh Chinook hops divided among four large sacks. While the look of the greenery was impressive the smell was what floored me. Now, pelletized hops come to us in 11-pound boxes and posses a pungent and sharp aroma. The 200-pound sacks of dried hops are overwhelming in size but mellow in scent.
These wet hops, however, had such a clean and grassy smell that I couldn’t help but grab a handful and bring the whole glorious bundle up to my nose. The bitterness was apparent, but it was so clean that I had to keep checking to make sure I wouldn’t forget that scent. Fortunately, the fresh hop beer we brewed that day was done conditioning two days ago and I can experience those fresh hops all over again.
I meant to write this piece about the more technical aspects that hops play in beer, but like I said earlier, it’s often more rewarding to stop sweating the details and just enjoy the experience.