hist-brewing: Hop Utilization and bitterness

bjm10 at cornell.edu bjm10 at cornell.edu
Thu Feb 4 20:23:42 PST 1999

On Thu, 4 Feb 1999 OxladeMac at aol.com wrote:

> I am trying to correlate the bitterness for each batch with a modern IBU
> measurement.  What effect would reusing hops have on the bitterness?  I am

Not sure, but I can tell you that "bittering hops" are a 19th-century 
invention, according to Greg Noonan.  Thus, a low alpha-acid variety (no 
more than 5%) is to be used--but you very well may have known that.

I *can* say that this usage of hops for a twopenny manages to make a very 
nicely balanced beer--a "session beer" one might say.

> off around 90 minutes, can I assume that the difference in utilization numbers
> between 60 and 90 is still available for the next boil?  Or would the lupulin
> resin be totally stripped from the hops, leaving essentially nothing behind
> for the next batch?  Would there be anything left (beyond trivial amounts) for

It would not be stripped.  There is enough essential "oils" to bitter.

> I guess I could try it side-by-side with identical SG recipes of known IBU
> amounts to see how the historical process compares.  I didn't know if anyone

Why do you need to know this?  If you really want to know the IBU, send 
some sample of a beer made according to this method to an analytical lab 
and have them directly measure it.  All calculations are merely 
approximate estimates.

> Next question - what were the characteristics of medieval hops, and what would
> be there most modern equivalent?  (Assuming circa 1577-1615 England - i.e.,

I only have "negative evidence".  Like I said, according to Greg Noonan, 
at least, the high-alpha hops varieties are 19th and 20th century inventions.

> Well, books I have read on homegrown hops all state that homegrown hops will
> tend to be more bitter than commercially available hops due to the fact that
> homegrown hops are not mishandled as commercially harvested hops are.  I

However, this "mishandling" likely happened during earlier eras as well.  
Hops were grown in volume and shipped, not necessarily gardened.  Do you 
have specific examples of what constitutes "mishandling"?  If it is 
merely a matter of baling and mass storage in a warehouse, that's a 
centuries-old practice for a lot of plant materials.

> What type of modern hops would most closely resemble 1600 England?  I have
> seen some championing fuggles or Goldings, but both are, if I remember right,
> post 1750 developments.  Would it matter much?  Markham doesn't call for any

Mix up a bunch of English "noble" varieties, if you can afford to get a 
few ounces of each.  It can't be any further off than any single cultivar.

> aroma or flavoring hops - they are added in at the beginning of the boil.  If
> that were the case, the only thing you would get would be the bitterness -
> would it really matter what type of hops you used?

Actually, it can.  Saaz boiled from the beginning hasn't the same effect 
as Fuggles boiled from the beginning--but this is purely anecdotal right 
now.  However, I'm trying to talk Dr. Siebert here at Cornell into doing 
more work with sensory perception and beer--in addition to merely working 
on chill haze.

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