Since we posted information about working with percentages to calculate malt amounts in homebrew recipes, we thought we would follow up with a post about how to best calculate hop amount for homebrew recipes. Figuring out hop amounts for a recipe is similar to calculating malt amounts, as they based off of a calculation of how much bitterness they will bring to your beer. There’s a few ways of doing it so watch this video as we discuss it in more detail.
We’re Trying To Figure Out Bittering Units
When it comes to hops, the measurement brewers are looking for is around how much bitterness the hop is going to bring to the final beer. Knowing this flavor component in beer is the purpose of any unit of measure like an International Bitterness Unit (IBU). As Mike points out, this measurement is flawed since it is based on a model. He goes on to share the saying, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” That’s some science pragmatism right there. The best thing with using any of the scale for hop bitterness is to stick to one since it will help you to tweak recipes later.
But Does Bitterness Matter For All Styles
Now as craft beer and homebrewed beer has evolved, our sensibilities around bitterness in beer has changed. If you think about the New England IPA style, that beer showcases aroma and flavor of hops more than the bitterness they impart. If bitterness is not a focus anymore, then how do you best communicate hop?
Let’s go all the way back to The Joy of Homebrewing and see how Charlie used Alpha Acid units as an easy way to calculate how much hops he was putting into a recipe. His method is a quick measurement of Alpha Acid percentage multiplied by ounces with a note of when it was added to the boil. Using this method gives enough information for the person who is following your recipe to mimic what you are adding to your beer.
Give it a try for you next recipe formulation and see how it goes with someone trying to brew the same beer as you.