During last night’s “A Bitch and a Bastard” event it occurred to me that the word “hoppy” might be the most subjective term in a beer advocate’s vocabulary. You might as well be saying “it taste like beer”.  With that in mind, I wanted to point out a few things about hoppy beers so that you are armed with a bit of knowledge for the remainder of beer week. Not that there are any hoppy beers being served around town or anything…

Without getting too scientific, just remember hops, in addition to acting as preserver, add two things to beer. Hops added to the boil during brewing adds bitterness while hops added towards the very end of brewing add aroma. This is a very brief explanation of how hops are used in beer. There are many other examples such as dry hopping, cask conditioning, etc. Consider this an overview.

Here are a couple things to remember.

  1. Describing a beer as “hoppy” or “bitter” is super subjective but by all means your opinion. Don’t let anyone tell you how you feel about a beer.
  2. IBU (International Bitterness Unit) is a technical term that can be measured but it’s relative to the malt bill. For example; Heavy Seas Loose Cannon comes in at around 72 IBU while North Cost Old Rasputin is around 75 IBU. Does Old Rasputin taste hoppy to you? Not all that much huh? It’s because its well balanced and the hops have to stand up to all that grain in this Russian Imperial Stout.
  3. When trying to convert someone from macro to craft, DON’T hand them an IPA or over the top hoppy beer. It’s a bad approach and the bitterness can easily deter a potentially new craft beer fan.

Enjoy the rest of DC Beer Week !