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Homegrown Hops Bitterness

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Postby RichieH » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:08 pm

Hello hop growers/botanists

I have been a little disappointed with both the flavour and bitterness of my homegrown hops, in particular, when I use my 'Taurus' hops, which are supposed to be a high alpha (12-14%) hallertauer, it seems to make no difference to the beer. I used a load of them to bitter a pilsner, and there was very little bitterness.

Last night at the ICB meeting, beernut suggested to me that perhaps this a result of letting almost all the shoots grow, which I do. I have read that you should only let 3 or so grow, but I always assumed that this was to stop the plant being short and bushy, i.e. spreading its energy too thing and not reaching its full height. I didn't see this as a problem since all my hops reach the top of their trellis within about 6 weeks of shooting. Now I am considering the possibility that letting all the shoots grow may also 'dilute' the hop bitterness.

Can anyone shed any light on this, particularly if anyone has any botanical knowledge? Does it make sense as a theory? I initially considered that maybe different soil makeup affected bitterness, but I read in some hop manual that actually, in tests, different soils have little to no effect on aa levels.
Richie

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Postby MAF » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:17 pm

Richie,

FWIW, I harvest wild hops which aren't managed in any way. While I use them chiefly for flavour and aroma, I had made a hop tea to check their bittering potential and the bitterness was similar to a 4-5%AA hop (which fits as the variety appears to be Fuggles).
You may be interested in reading this paper, which compares hop quality to meteorological values
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Postby Tube » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:19 pm

What fertilizer(s) did you use?

(I was going to say sunlight, but MAF beat me to it!)
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Postby RichieH » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:23 pm

I don't normally fertilise, because the soil seems pretty fertile. they grow like the bejesus anyway. I took to dumping the post fermentation yeast trub around them, it's very rich in nitrogen I think.
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Postby RichieH » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:25 pm

MAF wrote: I had made a hop tea to check their bittering potential


Yeah I did that too, and they seemed fairly bitter in a tea, but it didn't really come through in the beer


MAF wrote:You may be interested in reading this paper, which compares hop quality to meteorological values


cheers for that, that looks like the right sort of thing
Richie

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Postby RichieH » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:38 pm

Ok that paper was interesting. Basically, increased sunlight was inversely proportional to aa levels (which I thought odd), but rainfall was directly proportional. So perhaps I wasn't watering them enough

quote from the conclusion for those who can't be arsed reading it


Rainfall amount in a growing period of blossom and cone formation is essential for the alpha-acid
content in hops. Water availability should be as much as possible evenly distributed. Sunshine hours
positively stimulate alpha-acid formation, but also dry soil and thus negatively affect a plant
development. Increase of effective daily temperatures causes a reduction of alpha-acid values
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Postby Tube » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:43 pm

RichieH wrote:Ok that paper was interesting. Basically, increased sunlight was inversely proportional to aa levels (which I thought odd)

You didn't read it right! :) The increased sunlight only negatively impacts on AA if it dries out the soil. So in other words AA levels are proportional to sunlight, as we'll never have a problem with too much sunlight here (they don't even have that problem in SE England).

Hops suck the nitrogen out of the soil, so you need to fix that (replace it with fertilizer). I don't know anything about trub and nitrogen.
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Postby MAF » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:33 pm

RichieH wrote:perhaps I wasn't watering them enough
Or could your soil be too free draining and not hold enough moisture? Of course, watering them more regularly would help.
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Postby newToBrew » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:08 pm

RichieH wrote:I took to dumping the post fermentation yeast trub around them, it's very rich in nitrogen I think.


tell me more ! where did you get this info from ?
Deals - My own APA mash kit
Pri Fermenting:..Cascade Pale Ale
Sec Fermenting:.. :-(
Kegged: .........:-(
Bottled: ........ Oatmeal Stout
To Brew:......... Loads
In The Pipe Line: Wort Chiller, Mash Tun Manifold!!
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Postby RichieH » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:57 pm

em, the trub... I think marceldesailly (kev) told me. I trusted him because he's a doctor. In any case, I guess the moral is I should fertilise, and water more regularly. I don't think my soil is draining too quickly
Richie

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Postby RichieH » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:04 pm

oh no, maybe we shouldn't put the trub on the plants. look at this http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Grow-Hops/message/8554
Richie

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Postby Biertourist » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:18 pm

I've got an address in the US you could send a sample to and get them analyzed but it would cost you $50USD plus shipping...

The BrewLab guys in the UK might do it a whole lot cheaper: http://www.brewlab.co.uk/analysisandresearch.asp

Another other alternative is to use the "by the book" values for AA% for the variety, brew a beer with very accurate hop weight, water volume, and dry extract weight measurements and submit the final beer sample to BrewLab for 20£ GBP and get them to do the scientific IBU analysis on the finished beer. Unfortunately there's way too many variables in going from the hops themselves to the IBU in the beer for this to directly translate to hop AA% estimates so you'd have to brew the exact same beer again with a commercial example of the same hop with a known AA% and then submit both samples (40£ now) and use the % difference between the two to estimate your actual AA% in your homegrown hops. (This should give you a pretty accurate estimate without having to measure the hops themselves.)

-Obviously this is all a moot point if you don't care what your ACTUAL AA% is and you just want to try to coerce extra AA out of those hops.

Adam
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Postby Tube » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:29 pm

I've been looking to buy a 2nd hand UV/Vis Spectrophotometer, the use of which is the only real way to measure AA in hops.

I probably won't now but maybe some people could chip in together and do a group buy ;) Still pricey tho, at around €500 2nd hand.
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Postby JamesM » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:26 pm

Tube wrote:I've been looking to buy a 2nd hand UV/Vis Spectrophotometer, the use of which is the only real way to measure AA in hops.

I probably won't now but maybe some people could chip in together and do a group buy ;) Still pricey tho, at around €500 2nd hand.


Sounds like the conception of an actual homebrew club!!
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Postby Will_D » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:06 pm

Tube wrote:I've been looking to buy a 2nd hand UV/Vis Spectrophotometer, the use of which is the only real way to measure AA in hops.

I probably won't now but maybe some people could chip in together and do a group buy ;) Still pricey tho, at around €500 2nd hand.


I am about to order a decent DO meter.

Am madly considering looking for an IR spectrometer or GLC set up

So what about a "Beoir Co-Operative Brew Lab"

For a membership fee or donation ( of use or access to )of similar value in equipment you join the Co-Op

You then have access to borrow the smaller equipment ( like DO meter / pH meter / Water testing kits for a few days.

Or for the larger stuff call round to the guy who's got the serious analysis equipments and th eskill to use it, like the Mass Spectrometer in the garage

Or the particle accelerator ( hidden under seabury that I am slowly digging ) to GM the yeast cells

Cheers

Will
Drinking:........HBC AG Kit American APA
Pri Fermenting:..AG Paulaner
Sec Fermenting:..LaTrappe Dubbel, AG Pilsner, Aventius AG Clone
Kegged: .........Cider
To Brew:.........HoorsLite, Hefe Dunkel, Dark Pilsner
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