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Author Topic: High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops  (Read 460 times)


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High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops
« on: December 02, 2017, 09:24:24 PM »
Hey all. Here's something I've been pondering.

A 60 minute hop addition is used to impart bitterness and doesn't do much in the way of flavour or aroma.
HOWEVER, would there be a noticeable difference between using high alpha acid hops vs low alpha acid hops for bittering, besides the varying amounts?

So for example. Let's say you wanted to get 40IBU out of your 60min hop addition, and your two options are a small amount of something like Magnum, or a large amount of something like Hallertau (comparitively). If both amounts end up as 40IBU, and are used as a 60min addition for bittering, would the final product be much different?

It seems common sense to use high alpha hops for bittering, to save money, but is there potentially some sneaky extra flavours getting in there that one could potentially miss out on? I feel I'd use high alpha anyway, but it's been on my mind.



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Re: High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2017, 06:03:17 AM »
Interesting, I have actually never thought about it, depending on what im brewing I mostly still use a high alpha hops like pacific gem 14% - 16% alpha for just bittering, but from my own experience I know it does give a flavor and aroma even from the bittering addition so it might be something to think about for sure.


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Re: High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2017, 09:02:31 AM »
I would think you still get a little flavor from the bittering hop, not a lot because of the 60-90min boil driving it off.  I imagine you might get a little more flavor from the lower alpha hop then the higher alpha. just because you are adding more hops. Sounds like an experiment in the future.
I may try this on my next Dead Ringer IPA and split the boil
swap out the centennial hop addition for a magnum addition @60min on one boil.
of course i need to figure it out in my software, shouldnt take but a minute or two ;)
i have a few other brews i need to do before this.
Keg 1- Cider
Keg 2-
Keg 3- Sour Cherry Gose
Keg 4- Lager #2
Keg 5- Irish Red Ale
Keg 6- Ace of Spades BIPA
Keg 7- Lager #3
Planning- Cascade Ringer IPA

Black Dog Brewery

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Re: High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2017, 08:16:50 PM »
Any oils that would contribute "aroma" from what is traditionally known as a "bittering hop" addition would certainly be boiled away.

But that's what sets a home brewer apart from someone who always buys there beer.  If you cut open that pack of bittering hops and you really love the aroma, then go ahead and throw in 1 oz during the last 10 minutes and see what you think even though it will definitely bump up your perceived IBU bitterness.

Here is the math using one of the best recipes developed right here on the 17 Brew Crew . . .

Hop Sniffer IBU:  58.5

Hop Sniffer IBU after adding an additional ounce of the Northern Brewer bittering hop, not at the boil, but in the last 10 minutes:  68.3

So the choice is yours . . . There is a small bitterness price to pay if you like the aroma that is derived from the bittering hop.
Cheers & 17,

Long Island, New York
My Youtube Channel

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Re: High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2017, 09:38:27 PM »
when choosing a high AA hop or a low one for that matter for bittering, be careful about the
 co-humulone and or humulene levels in that hop. It's been a while since i did the research and I am not entirely sure if it's 1 or both but if a hop has high levels of this, you do not want to use it for bittering. Do some research and pick the right hop for your brew. It's not all about AA. there are other things that come into play here. cheers.
beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.....Henry Lawson.


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Re: High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2018, 03:16:06 AM »
Isn't most of the flavor and aroma from the Beta acids and little to do with the Alpha acids?
I thought the Alpha was for or was better for Bittering and the Beta for flavor! ??
Well I just educated myself, I think I was half right. ???

Check out the following link.
FV1 = Empty
FV2 = Empty
FV3 = (60L) Empty

Keg1 = 2Heads Pale
Keg2 = 2Heads IPA
Keg3 = 2Heads Amber
Keg4 = 2Heads Bitter
Keg5 = Empty


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Re: High vs Low Alpha Bittering Hops
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 05:02:32 PM »
Here's some good write up on hop composition that myself and another MTF wiki editor did.  The page is geared towards aged hops, but the beginning section covers some basic chemistry of hops: http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki/Hops#Hop_Composition


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