¿Qué es el lúpulo? - Beer Sapiens

We continue our beer education series, and we are going to talk about one of our favorite ingredients: hops. And it is that, when we thought about the logo of Beer Sapiens we were very clear from the beginning that this little plant would be so essential in the world of craft beer. A hop full of colour, variety and inclusion, in tune with our business philosophy.

But going back to hops, we are going to tell you why this flower became one of the fundamental ingredients of a good beer, how it works in a recipe and how it is included in the brewing process.

Why are hops added to beer?

¿Por qué se añade lúpulo a la cerveza?

This plant is one of the best-known ingredients in beer, but what is not so well known are the reasons why it is added (to a greater or lesser extent) to almost all recipes.

To understand it well, we advise you to read the article that we dedicate to malt. Starting from this kind of "porridge" of malted grains, with a characteristic sweet flavor produced by the fermentation of cereals. This flavor is going to need a taste complement, in this case the bitterness of the hops is the bitterness, it is going to provide greater sensory richness and it is going to make the whole more interesting.

In addition, the hops have antibacterial and antioxidant properties, so they will help in the stability and preservation of the beer, while providing very attractive aromas and a soft relaxing effect.

Origin and history of hops

Origen e historia de lúpulo

It is quite well known since one of the great defenders of the use of hops in the manufacture of beer was Hildegard of Bingen (1908-1179) . We tell you about it here. But the first mentions of the collection of wild hops come from Germany in the year 736 and its use in beer is documented in the Benedictine Monastery of Corbie, in northern France, as early as 822.

Commercial cultivation of this plant began in northern Germany around 1100, when hoppy beers from cities like Hamburg and Bremen began to travel elsewhere. The example spread and in the 1360s hops were already growing in the Netherlands and from there they moved to the County of Kent, England, around 1520.

In 1516 the Bavarian Purity Law declared hops as one of the ingredients of beer. In 1710 the English Parliament prohibited the use of any ingredient other than hops to add bitterness to beer.

How do you grow hops?

¿Cómo se cultiva el lúpulo?

The botanical name of the plant is Humulus Lupulus and it belongs to the Cannabaceae family. Yes, you heard right, cannabis. You could say that marijuana and hops are cousins… or even from the same family. In fact, aesthetically they are very similar.

But going back to our little plant: it can reach more than 6 meters in height, it is a climber and it grows fast. And it should be very tall since the more vertical growth they develop, the more flowers we will have. Its useful life can be between 15 and 25 years.

Hops need fertile soil and plenty of water. Today there are some 270 varieties that offer different sensory properties and qualities. Depending on the variety and climatic conditions, the flowers (cones) ripen between the beginning of August and the beginning of October, when they can be harvested . Subsequently, they will be separated from the stems and leaves and will go to the dryer.

Another very interesting fact is that only the female flowers are used, which contain the active ingredient called lupulin, which looks like a yellow granule at the base of the petals

What are hops made of?

Hops are made up of essential oils and resins used in brewing.

On the one hand, these bitter resins contain Alpha and Beta acids, responsible for many of the sensory properties of hops and their slight antibacterial power. When labeling the hops for launch the market, the variety, the origin and the percentage by weight of alpha acids (indicated as % AA) are the most important data.

Essential oils are also of great importance. 80% of the essential oils that will be found in the plant are myrcene, linalool, geraniol, lupulene, caryophyllene, betapinene and farnesene.

The proportions of each one and the interactions between them are what will give the sensory profile of the hops. Since these oils are not only found in this plant, but also appear in flowers, spices, and citrus, they will often be used as a reference to classify them (for example, using the reference of “ginger aroma ” or “earthy flavor”)

¿De qué está formado el lúpulo?

Did you know these facts? We love to show you in detail all the ingredients of your favorite beer. And we still have many things left from hops. Stay tuned for beer education articles to find out. Long live hops!

Cata de cervezaCuriosidades cervecerasEducación cerveceraLúpulo

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