Welcome to the latest installment of How to Talk Like a Beer Geek. Today, it’s all about the hops! Whether you like super hoppy beers or malty beers with very little hoppy flavors, hops are a major player in every beer. Just ask the Reinheitsgebot! Ummm… Yeah, we will get to the Reinheitsgebot another time…. for now, let’s get HOPPY!
The first term for today is NOBLE HOPS. There are four noble hops out there; Saaz, Tettnanger, Spalt, and Halltertua. These hops all have low bitterness and are hops with lots of aroma. Some specific beers must be brewed with these noble hops to be considered “genuine” for their beer style. Also, lots of people will tell you that to be considered true noble hops these hops must be grown in a specific region. This whole noble hops thing sounds a bit stuffy to me and elitist, but we gotta know the terms so we can scream out our beer geekiness!
The next hop term is FRESH HOPPED/WET HOPPED. These terms mean the same thing. Basically it is using hops in a beer that have been very recently picked and have yet to be dried out. This brings different levels of oils in the hops to the beer and really can make a hug difference in a beer, even from using the same hops but ones that have been dried out. You see fresh/wet hopped beers seasonally around fall each year after the hops have been harvested.
The final term for today before we… ummm… hop outta here… is DRY HOPPED. No, this isn’t what your neighbor’s dog is trying to do to your leg, but rather dry hopping a beer is the brewing practice of adding hops to a beer after the boil. Usually hops are added at different stages during the boil, depending on if the hops are used for aroma or bitterness. But dry hopping again will give different flavors and aromas than a beer that is just hopped during the boil. It’s all about getting different stuff out of the same ingredient by using it in a different way!
So there you go! A few hoppy beer geek terms for all you hop heads out there. Now, hop on over to your local tap room, have a beer, and talk hops!