Piney River Brewing Company

Hops, Hoptemonium, Hopalicious, Hoppiness, Hops!

In The Beer on September 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

We signed a contract today.  Not a huge contract, but a contract nonetheless.  It is a contract that is vital to the success of Piney River Brewing Company in 2012.  It’s a contract that’s vital to the outcome of handcrafted beer from Bucyrus, MO.

We signed a contract for our hops.

Small, family owned brewery in the Ozarks has signed a contract with a US hop brokerage firm in Washington.

Why is it important to contract your hops, you might ask?

There are many different types of hops (grown around the world), and the hop farmers contract with breweries prior to their upcoming season so they will know how many hops of various varieties to grow.

Did you know that hops are the bittering agent used in brewing beer to provide a balance between the sweet wort that comes off the grain?  Did you know that hops provide aroma to beer?  Did you know that all beers have some amount of hops in them (some a lot more than others!)?   Hops provide flavor and aroma, and some hop varieties provide more flavor or more aroma, depending upon the variety.  In some brews hops are added only once.  In some brews hops are added multiple times throughout the boil and sometimes during the fermentation or after the fermentation process.

What is a hop?

Hops are the female flower clusters of the hop species, Humulus lupulus.

Hops are an herbaceous perennial that climb, so in cultivation, hop plants grow on a trellis system.  The hop blossoms are harvested when they are ripe.   The hop blossoms are dried, and the dried blossoms are turned into hop pellets. The hop grower promises that the hop blossoms will not have too many leaves or stems, and each specific hop variety has a certain amount of alpha acids.  These alpha acids are what provide bitterness or aroma when beer is being made.

We have contracted with our grower for several hundred pounds of hops of different types.

Pelletized hops currently in the brewery.

Hops were first used in cultivation in 8 or 9 AD in the Hallertau region of present day Germany.  Germany still produces the largest amount of hops in the world.  North American hops are primarily grown in the Northwestern US.  Hops are also grown across Europe, in New Zealand, China, and the UK.  There are certain hop varieties that originated in Europe but are grown in the US today.

Hops are harvested in the US in late summer, and in a few weeks, we will have some hops in our brewery that were recently harvest out West.  The hops come to us in vacuum sealed 44 lb. bags.  We keep them in airtight bags in the cooler or the freezer at the brewery.

It’s all hoppiness and light here at Piney River Brewing Company with our 2012 hop contract out of the way.  Now we’ll just keep our fingers crossed for the right mix of sunlight and rain for US hop farms in 2012, too.

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