Brewers sensatized to hops? Noooo.

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Brewers sensatized to hops? Noooo.

Postby Freon12 » Sun Feb 12, 2006 7:03 pm

As I taste each batch from my local micro brew, I began to see an increase in hop rates to the point that the standard brown could qualify as a pale ale.

Working with hops every day must somehow build a sort of resistance to hop flavor and as the brewer tests each batch the hop rate goes up to suit his taste until he Or she is confronted in the alley by customers with sour looking faces after imbibing the latest beer on tap. Also a facination with high powered "new age" hops has made it to the reciepe i assume due to the need for hop to cut through the layer on the mouth built up ever so slowly.

Has anyone else seen this or am I snobbing it up again?

Freon "the lost but found again brewer"

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Postby JudgeKev » Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:21 pm

It could be that. Or it could be that your brewer is responding to customer requests for "more hops!"

I think that we in America have been so hop deprived in our mainstream beers that we are having the sort of awakening that happens to adolescents. And we can't resist playing with our new friend(s).

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Postby The Professor » Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:01 am

Lots of beers these days are simply over-hopped.
I never thought I would say that, but it is unfortunately true.

Odd thing is, the very highly hopped beers that were available 40 years ago were a "niche" product (and there were some great ones...I know because I sought them out and drank them, and they were good...in some cases a LOT better than anything available today). A couple of them would totally outclass anything made today by virtue of the care that went into making them, and time devoted to properly aging them.

in any case, the high hopping rate of a lot of commercial beers made these days has resulted in a same-ness to the point where highly hopped beers have become downright boring. Real balance in beer has become, it seems, a lost art, with more and more of the new brewers going for high hop rates that simply burn out the taste buds.

Balance in a beer is not a bad thing. Of course, the reality is that the high hopping rate is an easy way for unskilled brewers to hide their mistakes and lack of real skill. Also, highly hopped beers need long aging to even out the harsher notes...very few commercial brewers these days seem to be able or willing to devote aging tank space to the time necessary for proper aging of these types of beers. The odd thing is, some consumers seem to have come to expect the harsh, green, unrefined flavors of young beer with high hop levels...which is a good thing for new brewers that feel it is not a quality beer without a puckering level of hops.

I love hoppy beers...but there is an art to using high hop bitterness that seems to be lost these days. A lot of the current crop of mega hopped beers (especially in the brewpub segment) simply shows a lack of real brewing skill. Real beer can be a complex taste experience...but it's all about balance. The micros and pub-breweries that "get it" are a precious few. Thank god for homebrew.
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Re: over-hopped

Postby Legman » Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:09 am

I couldn't agree with you more, Professor. Nice post.
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RE: Brewers sensatized to hops?

Postby wottaguy » Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:30 am

I totally agree with the Professor as well.

In the recent past I brewed one of my American Pale Ales and my brew friends and neighbors and friends of friends stated that it was one of the best home brewed ales that they have ever tasted.

The beer had a firm bitterness with a nice hop flavor coupled with malty flavors. It met the nose first with a fresh aromatic sense of hops followed by a nice malty presence that lured the drinker into taking a sip. The hop profile and the malty characteristics came to be fairly well balanced, my friends were fast to point this out exclaiming that it was a very balanced beer with multiple hop and malty flavors, and once a sip was made, dared you to drink more.

With that boost of confidence, I entered the brew in to a fairly local AHA sanctioned competition with high hopes.

A few weeks later I received my score sheets, and was very dismayed to learn that the beer did not place, but the real annoying thing that got to me was the judges comments of the beer "not being more strongly hopped as the grapefruit and citrus flavors were not present or were not strong enough!

Since when does an American Pale Ale have to contain Grapefruit and citrus flavors? It sounded like they were expecting an IPA too me.

I do like a balanced beer that gives the drinker multiple levels of flavors, that keeps them coming back for more.

Just my 2 cents worth.....

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Postby jawbox » Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:38 pm

This is where i can get annoyed with the BJCP. There are some real good judges out there and some others that are complete flakes.

Let's see what the BJCP has to say about American Pale Ale

10A. American Pale Ale

Aroma: Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. A citrusy hop character is very common, but not required. Low to moderate maltiness supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity). Fruity esters vary from moderate to none. No diacetyl. Dry hopping (if used) may add grassy notes, although this character should not be excessive.

Ingredients: Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. American hops, often but not always ones with a citrusy character. American ale yeast. Water can vary in sulfate content, but carbonate content should be relatively low. Specialty grains may add character and complexity, but generally make up a relatively small portion of the grist. Grains that add malt flavor and richness, light sweetness, and toasty or bready notes are often used (along with late hops) to differentiate brands.

clearly the judges were looking for something that isn't required and marking you down for it.
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Postby The Professor » Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:03 pm

Seems to happen a lot.
The BJCP's guidelines list itself has gotten out of hand over the years, with the expanding list of "styles" getting a bit silly. But yes...it would not be so bad if the judges would keep in mind that the guidelines are just that, guidelines that are not carved in stone (and which often seem arbitrary at best).
As you point out, there are good judges and not so good ones; the good ones "get it" and don't automatically deduct points just because a beer isn't on the "extreme" end of a given "style". More is not always better.

On a side note (but somewhat related) ...Like many things the American culture has gotten a hold of and applied that "more is better" philosophy to, it seems that the microbrew industry is so busy these days mega-hopping and extreme brewing things that the true art of brewing...a balance of flavors... is getting lost. In many cases it is just inadequately trained folks manning the kettles (especially in brewpubs).
I also think that the renewed commercial availabilty of highly hopped (and often over-hopped) beers have some people (including BJCP judges) thinking that a beer is not a quality product without a hefty hop bitterness. Very highly hopped beers are not a new thing, because as I mentioned, I was drinking them 40 years ago. It's just that a lot of the "new brewers" don't seem to get it right...harsh, green flavors and puckering bitterness that induces a yak response instead of the clean and crisp refreshing bitterness that results from proper aging.
Even though I do enjoy very hoppy beer, the current trend is resulting in a "sameness" that just burns out your palate.
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Postby GuardianBrew » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:16 am

Totally in agreeance with the statements so far!

I love me some big, hoppy, bitter, extreme beers. But like has been said so far, the lack of experience in so many of these brewers is incredibly apparent. One thing that really gets me is the competition that seems to be going on around my area of "my IPA is harsher and more bitter than your IPA!" If you want to brew a big, hoppy, bitter IPA, go for it! I love the style. But pouring in an excessive amount of Columbus hops does not make a good IPA. I think it takes true skill to master the art of properly balancing out a big hoppy beer, and there are very few "big" beers on the market that I think are truly great.
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:34 am

Being a new brewer, I can attest to the belief that "more is better" when it comes to hops.

I'm not sure if I'd call it a lack of skill or knowledge, but more of a change in beliefs. Younger drinkers like myself enjoy extremely grassy beers. Yes, we've been conditioned for this, maybe because of bad technique on the part of commercial brewers. But that's not to say it's a bad thing.

I actually had a friend ask me to make him a custom IPA. He hates the extremely malty flavors of some bigger IPA's, so he's asked me to do one with very little malt flavor. He wants the alcohol to be around 6% but the IBU's to be off the charts. I'm not sure I agree with his thinking, but he's paying for it, and I'll make it.

My point is...most breweries these days are brewing beers this way because that's what the public has grown to love.
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Postby GuardianBrew » Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:28 am

You don't need the hops to be "off the charts" to make a less malty IPA. Change your malt bill a bit. Keep caramel malts to a minimum, possibly change your base malt out for some pilsner malt. Experiment a bit. Hops aren't always the answer :)
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Postby Suthrncomfrt1884 » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:23 pm

I'm not using hops as a solution to maltyness. He wants something that compares to DFH's 120 minute as far as hops go, but he said that if I wanted to double it, he'd be fine with that. He just wants as little malt flavor as possible. Shouldn't be a problem.
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