Hoppy Vs Bitter: Understanding The Difference

Craft beers are a firm favorite with drinkers as there are lots of different tastes and flavors to try.

Hoppy Vs Bitter: Understanding The Difference

Having different flavors to try keeps craft beers interesting and it allows enthusiasts to find their favorite beers. With craft beers, the flavors are endless and incredibly refreshing. 

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As craft beers are packed full of great tastes, where do the flavors come from?

Hops help to give craft beers their distinctive tastes, but the term ‘hoppy’ can often be confused with bitterness. What is the difference between beer being hoppy and beer being bitter?

This article will explain the differences between hoppy and bitter beers so you can understand how the beers cannot be described as the same.

This will help you understand what makes beers taste hoppy and what makes beers taste bitter, which will help you gain a better understanding of them. 

What Are Hops?

Hops are small flowers that are shaped like cones that are found on a plant called Humulus Lupulus.

The flowers are then added to beers during the brewing process to create a distinctive flavor and aroma. They are a key ingredient in beers and allow different beers to have different flavor profiles.

As well as providing beer with flavors and aromas, hops also keep beer fresher for longer. They help the beer to keep its foam, which helps to keep the beer fresh and full of flavor.

Why Do Hops Get Confused With Bitters?

When people describe beers are being ‘too hoppy’, they are often referring to the beer being too bitter.

Describing hoppy beers as bitter has led to a stereotype that all beers containing hops are bitter, but this is not the case. 

As craft beers contain hops, which is how they get their flavor profiles, people can confuse what hops do to a beer.

Understanding what hops do to a beer can help you find some of your favorite beers, but you shouldn’t automatically assume that all beers containing hops are incredibly bitter.

The Relationship Between Beers And Hops

As hops are widely used for brewing beer, it is important to understand the relationship between the two.

People can often assume that IPAs are the only type of beer that uses hops for flavor, but this isn’t the case.

Hops are a very widely used ingredient in beer, so understanding them is key to understanding their flavor profiles. 

Yes, Hops Add Bitterness

Hops do add bitterness to beer, but this all depends on the number of hops that are used in the brewing process.

The level of bitterness in beer ranges on the type of hops that are used, the amount that is used, and how they are used in the beer. Therefore, they do not instantly turn a beer bitter after they are used.

Hops Balance The Beer

The reason that hops add hints of bitterness to beers is that without them, beers would be too sweet to drink.

Using hops balances the flavors in the beer and creates a distinctive flavor that is neither too bitter nor too sweet to drink. 

All Beers Contain Hops

Hops are an important ingredient in beer, so it is almost impossible to brew a delicious beer without them.

Even if your beer does not taste like it contains hops, it does, as this helps to create a delicious-tasting beer that has balanced flavors for you to enjoy.

Hops Are Underrated

As hops as generally branded as the ingredients that turn a beer bitter, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is a lot more to hops than people think, as beers get their delicious tastes and scents from the hops that are used during the brewing process.

They are also a preservative, so they keep your beer fresh and flavorful.

The Difference Between Hoppy And Bitter

The Difference Between Hoppy And Bitter

As hops are an important ingredient in beer, it is important to know the difference between hoppy beers and bitter beers.

Although you may not think that it matters, it can affect the way that you view certain beers if they are branded as bitter, so knowing the difference can unlock new flavor profiles for you.

Hoppy Beers

Beers that are described as ‘hoppy’ bring out the best scents and flavors of the beer.

Hops are a very important part of beer brewing as they add flavor undertones to your beer, ranging from fruity, earthy, and floral tastes.

The flavor profiles are often distinctive to where the hops are grown, making certain beers native to certain regions.

Hops are used to provide bitterness to sweet beers to help balance the flavors out, but that doesn’t mean that hops turn beers bitter as soon as they are added.

They help to balance the flavors and prevent beers from being too bitter or too sweet.

Brewers are also using hops in a different way to break the stereotype of hops causing bitterness. Brewers are using a technique where they are adding hops in near the end of the brewing process.

As the hops are added late, they only provide aroma and flavors to the beer instead of bitterness to balance the beer.

The term ‘hoppy’ is used to describe the tastes and scents of a beer that is caused by the hops.

The scents and tastes can be of citrus, floral, fruity, and earthy undertones, which are based on the hops that are used in the beers.

It should not be used as a term to describe a bitter beer, as this is not the case.

Bitter Beers

Bitter beers are only suited for people with a certain taste, as bitter beers can be very enjoyable for those who enjoy the flavors.

People often stay away from bitter beers as the flavors are strong, but beers should be bitter as it stops the beer from being too sweet to drink.

As bitter beers are simply characterized as being too bitter, it is important to recognize that there is a bitterness scale that has a huge range.

The International Bitterness Units, known as IBUs, measure the bitterness of beer through the isohumulone, which is acid that is released into beer from hops.

The scale begins at zero, showing that there is no isohumulone in beer, and the higher the scale, the more isohumulone that is found in beer.

However, just because a beer is on the higher end of the IBU scale, that doesn’t mean that it is bitter.

The malts that are used in beer also contribute to the bitterness of a beer, so if a beer has a higher malt level than others, then it can balance out higher IBU levels.

If a beer has 60 IBUs and has 6% ABV, it will taste as bitter as a 90 IBU beer with 9% ABV. This is very common in stout beers as they contain more malt than other types of beer.

Can You Tell the Bitterness Of Beer Using IBU Levels?

You cannot judge the bitterness of a beer solely using the IBU levels. There are lots of other factors that you need to be aware of if you are trying to determine how bitter a beer tastes, like the malt levels in the beer.

If the beer has a high IBU level, you may assume that it is bitter. However, if the beer doesn’t contain high levels of malt, it won’t be as bitter as others.

The best way to determine how bitter a beer is is to drink it yourself. You should have a taste of a beer to determine the bitterness level and see if it is an enjoyable taste for yourself.

If you taste the beer and find that it is too bitter, you can look for a different beer to try. The best way to see how bitter a beer is is to taste it for yourself.

How Do IPAs Taste?

IPAs use hops for flavor and tastes, so they have undertones of the hops that are used during the brewing process.

Lots of people expect most of the flavor of the beer to come from taste, but a lot of people find that when they are drinking an IPA, the scent contributes more to the flavor.

Hops can create citrus, floral, fruity, and earthy flavors and scents, but lots of people find that the scents give most of the flavor.

Although people taste hops in IPAs, the scents also contribute to the overall flavor of the beer.

What Is The Difference Between Wet Hopping And Dry Hopping?

The difference between wet hopping and dry hopping is the types of hops that are used in the brewing process. Wet hopping refers to the use of fresh hops, and dry hopping refers to the use of dry hops.

Wet Hops

Brewers enjoy using wet hops when brewing as they provide a fresher flavor to the beer.

The fresh taste and aroma of wet hops cannot be made with dry hops, so using wet hops is worth the effort if you can source them.

However, as they are fresh, they have a very short window that they need to be used before they turn bad.

Once the fresh hops have been grown, they need to be used a day or two after they have been harvested, otherwise, there is a risk that they will lose their flavor.

If you use fresh hops during their fresh period, you will be able to brew a fresh-tasting beer.

The Downside Of Using Wet Hops

When you use wet hops, you do not have the same control over flavor and aromas as you do with dry hops.

The flavors that the hops will provide are based on when the hops are harvested, so you will not know the taste or scent of the beer until it is brewed.

It is also difficult to make hoppy beers using fresh hops as it will take a large number of wet hops to create the same effect as a beer that has been brewed using dry hops.

If you do use too many wet hops in your beer, it can cause your beer to become too overpowering and bitter, which will not be popular to drink.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping is the name that is given to adding hops late in the brewing process. This helps to bring out the flavors and the aromas from the hops in the beer and not make the beer bitter.

Although hops do not necessarily make beer bitter, adding them late in the process ensures that the beer is full of flavor and that the taste is hoppy instead of bitter.

Adding hops late in the process means that the beer has a deep flavor profile, making it popular with beer drinkers around the world.

Using dry hops is very popular with brewers as they do not need to be used as quickly as wet hops and they provide beers with great flavors and aromas.

Do Hops Turn Beers Bitter?

Hops do not turn beers bitter, they aim to balance out the flavors of the beer. If you do not want to drink an incredibly bitter beer, you wouldn’t want to drink an incredibly sweet one either.

Therefore, hops aim to provide you with strong flavors and aromas without turning the beer bitter. Instead, they balance out the sweetness of the beer to make it drinkable.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, the main difference between hoppy and bitter beers is that hops aim to balance out the flavors of the beer, whereas bitter beers have higher levels of malt.

This causes the bitter beers to have a bitter taste, whereas hops do not cause beers to turn bitter, they add flavor and acid to help balance out the sweetness in beers.

The type of hops that you use can influence the taste of your beers. Using wet hops allows your beer to be fresher, but adding too much can cause your beer to become too overpowering and bitter.

Using dry hops is very popular as they provide your beer with strong flavors and aromas for an enjoyable drink.

Mandy Winters

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