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    Hop Bitterness, Flavor and Aroma


    The style of beer being brewed determines the amount of hop bitterness, flavor and aroma that is technically acceptable. If you are not brewing to style then your taste buds determine what is acceptable.

    Hop Bitterness is a function of the alpha acid of the hops used, quantity and the amount of time they are boiled. Normally hops used for bittering are boiled between 30 minutes and 1 hour. Just about any variety of hop can be used for bittering.

    Hop Flavor is again determined by the quantity of hops used. Normally hops used for their flavor are boiled for 10 to 20 minutes therefore reducing the bitterness contribution. Each variety of hop contributes a different flavor to the beer which could be floral, fruity, spicey, herbal.

    Hop Aroma comes from volatile oils in the hop which dissipate very quickly in the boil. Hops used for aroma are usually added at the very end of the boil (less than 2 minutes boiling time).

    Corrective Action:


    To reduce the amount of bitterness,
    • Use less hops.
    • Use a variety with a lower alpha acid.
    • Boil for a shorter time.

    To increase the amount of bitterness, do the opposite.


    To decrease the strength of the hop flavor use less hops. Likewise, use more hops to increase the flavor. Try other varieties to achieve a different flavor. You can even use a few different varieties to get a more complex flavor profile.


    As with flavor you can increase or decrease the amount of hops to increase or decrease the aroma. Also, you can change the variety to achieve a different aroma. Some brewers add the hops to the secondary to get a stronger hop aroma; this is known as dry hopping.

    Further Reading:

    The Homebrewer's Garden - How to Easily Grow, Prepare and Use Your Own Hops, Brewing Herbs, Malts

    The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian


    E-mail mike[AT] or check out the FAQ if your problem is not listed here.

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