Hop Purchase & Usage

Try to buy only the best

  • There are four Hop Merchants in the UK and many more worldwide, all providing different services, products and emphasis on different areas of the market
  • Hops should be stored in a deep freeze, refrigerator or in a cold room
  • Hop bitterness is lost faster at higher temperatures
  • Purchase in a pack size as close to the brew length usage as you can – aroma is lost once the pack is opened
  • For smaller needs, buy in fresh packs or their equivalent (vacuum packs in double silver foil)
  • Always enquire as to the age of hops and the quality
  • Pellets are sometimes easier to store and use than whole hops

Learn to evaluate the hops yourself

  • To assess or compare hop aroma make a hop tea, cool it and smell
  • Hop merchants who sniff and rub hops every day look for a sample with a fresh clean aroma without defects in appearance
  • Hops may smell powerful when rubbed in the hand, yet may not be so powerful when in the beer. Minor differences in the rub can mean big differences in the beer
  • Whatever the hand evaluation there is no substitute for test brewing

Test Brewing

  • Test brew once with the new hop alone to see where it fits on the bitterness, aromatic and intensity scales
  • Test it out in a 100% pale malt beer with a standard water treatment so that the hop aroma shows through clearly
  • Adjust the portion quantities by the alpha content of the new hop and start with a comparison of the flavour at about 28 IBU’s (similar to commercial ales)


  • To build a hop grist, look at other hop grist’s of beers you like and experiment
  • Research recipes
  • Home brewing books give clues and there is much on the Internet
  • If you mix hops remember that sometimes hop aromas from different hops just ‘average out’ the taste and dilute the effect
  • Single hopped beers sometimes have more aroma definition about them than multi-hopped beers.
  • Choose the ‘alpha’ hop carefully. Some ‘alpha’ hops have strong aromas (in spite of their early addition to the boil) that may subtract from or add to the final hop character.

Portions and Timing

  • What works on one brew process and yeast may not work on another – in short, anything goes, be creative
  • Most methods have been tried and are still in use somewhere

Yeast and Process

  • Look closely at your yeast and brewing process
  • The same hop on different yeast will taste different
  • Make sure your yeast is compatible with the beer you are trying to make
  • Start by having the beer tasted blind by friendly brewers and ask their opinions
  • Other aromas might be hiding the hop aroma, higher alcohols, high gravity brewing (jammy) esters, diacetyl and hydrogen sulfide will all disguise or overlay your hop aroma