When tasting a craft beer, there are many different flavors to be experienced. As you describe the flavor profile of the beer, it is important to know that “bitter” and “hoppy” are not synonymous. So how do hops affect the flavor of a beer? And how are we sure we are using these two words correctly?
First and foremost, all beer contains hops. Hops are added to beer to create a flavor balance with other ingredients. The hops can be manipulated to create a specific flavor profile. When describing a beer as “hoppy”, the flavor being described is from the characteristics of the hops – typically described as fruity, earthy, piney, floral, citric, etc. This hop aroma comes from the oils within the hop itself.
- Example: Ignite Your Adventure IPA – with the addition of citra, denali and mosaic hops, this beer has a citrusy hop aroma and flavor.
Now that we have discussed hops, lets differentiate between bitter and hoppy. Hops can be manipulated during the brewing process to make beer have a bitter taste; the longer the boil-time, the more bitterness. The International Bitterness Unit (IBU) is the scale used to measure the bitterness of a beer. The higher the IBUs of the beer, the more bitter the beer will taste.
- Example: 5-4-3 Double IPA
Next time you’re in the taproom, grab a flight and include these two beers. Try to decipher the different flavors – bitterness and hop aroma. Ask our bartenders what other “hoppy” or “bitter” beers they would recommend for your taste test! 🙂