How we brew hop heavy craft beer

How we brew hop heavy craft beer

Craft beer has become pretty much mainstream over the last couple of decades, and at the forefront of this revolution are hop-heavy beers. Renowned for their bold flavours and aromas, these beers offer a delightful sensory experience that many beer enthusiasts seek. Here’s an inside look at the key processes and steps a modern craft brewery like Alphabet Brewing uses to create punch beers like our Haze Craze DIPA.

1. Recipe Development
Creating a hop-heavy beer begins with the recipe. Brewers start by selecting the type and amount of hops, as well as the malt, yeast, and other ingredients. The goal is to balance the intense hop bitterness with the malt sweetness, creating a well-rounded beer. It takes many years of experience to understand this process, our head brewer has a background in food and chef work alongside his university work in chemistry. He knows how to combine science and flavours perfectly.

Hop selection is part of the recipe and a significant part of the brewing process as hops contribute different flavours and aromas. Popular choices for hop-heavy beers include Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, and Citra. A more simple approach to malts leaves a clear canvas for utilising hop profiles, hence the use of pale malts in hop heavy craft beer.

2. Milling and Mashing
Once the recipe is set, the brewing process begins with milling and mashing.

Milling: The malt grains are crushed to expose their starches.
Mashing: The milled grains are mixed with hot water in a process called mashing. This activates enzymes that convert the starches into fermentable sugars. The temperature and duration of the mash can affect the beer’s body and sweetness.

3. Lautering
After mashing, the mixture, now called mash, is transferred to the lauter tun. Lautering is the proscess whereby liquid wort is separated from the solid grain husks. The wort is then rinsed to extract as much fermentable sugar as possible.

4. Boiling
The wort is then boiled, and this is where hops play a crucial role.

Hops are added at various stages during the boil. Early additions contribute bitterness, while late additions and dry hopping (adding hops after the boil) provide flavour and aroma. This step is meticulously controlled to achieve the desired hop profile, thus giving each craft beer is unique flavours and aromas

5. Fermentation
After boiling, the wort is cooled and transferred to a fermentation vessel. This is when yeast is added to the cooled wort. It ferments the sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. The fermentation temperature and yeast strain can significantly influence the final flavour of the beer.

6. Dry Hopping
For hop-heavy beers, dry hopping is a critical step in the craft beer brewing process. Hops are added to the fermenting beer after the main fermentation is done. This approach maximizes the hop aroma without adding bitterness to the flavour, resulting in the vibrant, aromatic character that defines hop-heavy beers.

7. Conditioning
The beer is conditioned to develop its flavors fully, it's the part of the process where the beer might be refined and taste tested regualrly. Conditioning will take place in our tanks, a time when the beer will mature and the more harsh or heavy hitting flavours should mellow. For the more 'hoppy' beers, this stage allows hop aromas to combine to create the desired hop profile.

8. Filtration and Packaging
Once conditioning is complete, the beer is filtered and packaged. Depending on the desired appearance and mouthfeel a beer may be filtered, this creates a clarity to the beer. In modern beers, the hop selection and early brewing process may actively seek for their to be a hazy finish.

Finally, the beer is packaged,into cans, bottles or kegs. In some cases it may also have carbonation added.

9. Quality Control
Quality control is essential when crafting great modern craft beers. Our head brewer will test the beer at various stages for consistency and quality. This includes measuring alcohol content, bitterness levels, and conducting sensory evaluations to ensure the beer meets the desired standards.

Creating beers like Haze Craze is a blend of science and artistry. From selecting the perfect hops to mastering the timing of hop additions and fermentation nuances, each step is crucial to crafting a beer that bursts with hoppy goodness. Modern craft breweries leverage skills and techniques with state of the art brew kit to make the perfect beer.