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What Are Hops? A Lesson on Beer Fermentation.

Posted by Beau Farrell on Sep 19, 2017 4:57:18 PM

what are hopsThe ever-growing craft beer movement in the U.S. means an explosion in the demand for hops and that rings true for beer producers around Minnesota, too. Much of it can be directly attributed to the highly popular, wildly successful, blazing intensity of West Coast IPAs. Those India Pale Ales bring the hops, and the country's thirst followed.

Understanding Hops

Basically, it breaks down like this. Beer is brewed with four primary ingredients: grain, hops, yeast and water. And, when it comes to hops, it's the one ingredient that hasn't always been essential but the one that is depended upon as a flavoring agent, to balance the sweetness of the brew by adding bitterness and to act as a preservative. All of those floral, citrus, and herbal aromas and flavor? Thank the hops.

The addition of hops to beer is a relative newcomer. Beer has been around since antiquity, but it was really the middle ages that brought hops to the mix. Still, what are hops?

Hops are the female flowering cone of a hop plant, otherwise known as the Humulus lupulus. They are added to the boiling process of beer production. West Coast IPAs have the power of location. They are brewed where the hops are grown. The Pacific Northwest states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho's panhandle grow 97.8-percent of the hops in the United States.

Want Hops? Check out these brews.


Here in Minnesota, it's starting, and there is room for growth. There is Mighy Axe Hops in Foley, MN. They've written the book on growing hops in our state, literally. Recently, they've published a hops growing guide for commercial scale, homebrewers and backyard hops gardeners alike.

And, Minnesota researchers are working with hop producers throughout the state to provide them with information on proper disease and fertility management strategies.

Want to learn more? Check out this video from the University of Minnesota Department of Plant Pathology or this Guide to Hops from Beer Advocate. If you want to simply enjoy sipping on a "hoppy" beer, we can help with that. Stop by any of our 13 Haskell's locations to pick up some of your favorite brews, or just hang tight — we can deliver them to your door, too!

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Topics: Beer