[permaculture] hops and beer
brooks.devin at gmail.com
Tue Apr 15 15:25:14 EDT 2008
it's pretty well understood in the brewing world why hops were historically
used to bitter beer. it used to be every bioregion had its own bittering
agent (herb) that was used not only to balance the sweet maltiness of barley
or wheat beer, but to suppress undesirable (non-yeast) activity in the sweet
wort. this is why many belgians ales, whose flavors often derive from
byproducts of "wild" yeasts and several strains of bacteria, cannot be
hopped excessively. if they are, bacteria will often not grow in the wort.
and it's true that hops became the herb of choice for mainly financial
reasons - i.e. someone in power owned hops farms or had friends who did, and
decreed that only hops be used to bitter beer (german reinheitsgebot is the
buhner's book sacred beers is great for the history of beer ingredients, and
he includes many benefits of hop usage and health as well. the other
reference to estrogen in raw hops is accurate, but i wonder, what kind of
stability does it have in beer? i mean, by the time beer is finished, the
hops contained in it have been vigorously boiled, cooled and fermented in an
oxygen-free environment (once primary fermentation is complete), and then
pressurized. so, comparing the properties of raw hops and beer is pretty
invalid i think.
for a local and abundant bittering herb, try dandelion - root or leaf, it
tastes great in beer.
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