The geekier side of hops…
To grow hops at home you don’t need to know the ins and outs of the plant’s anatomy (biology / botany), but if you’ve come this far there’s a decent chance that you’re on the path toward #hopgeek acclaim.
Most of the focus with hop flavour is around the lupulin glands – bright yellow, but tiny little seed-like balls that clump together within the hop cone. When fully ripe the lupulin will often be visible on the outside and even ooze with those special oils / resins.
Resins, Oils & Acids:
The lupulin is also what provides the acids – the primary way of describing a certain hop’s characteristics. Bittering compounds come from the resins in the form of acids, giving your favourite craft beer its bitterness; alpha acids in the form of humulones and beta acids in the form of lupulones. It is the delicate oils that give beer that incredible aroma and, arguably, the star of the show that is this global craft beer revolution.
Resins = bitter acids
Oils = aroma
Tannins & Polyphenols:
Playing the crucial yet less glamourous support role are the tannins. One of the fundamental tasks that hops play in beer is a natural preservative. It is the tannins that are responsible for the polyphenols, which carry out all the dirty work preventing oxidation (stopping beer going stale). Now we’re into the medicinal properties of beer such as antioxidants (prenylated flavonoids) that combat harmful free radicals. Quick Google searches on these subjects will produce a raft of research and articles claiming beer to be the answer to all our health issues. Many of which have genuine scientific grounding, but many more taken out of context!
So, next time you’re taking a sip, feel free to raise your glass, toast good health and, ignoring any potential future hangover, smile knowing you may just be doing some kind of good to your body…
Check out our tips pages for growing hops in your garden:
Search #CoHop on social media.