From The Brewing Room

The cherished Humulus Lupulus! Well, it didn't always used to be the case. In Henry VIII's time, his brewer described hops as 'that wicked and pernicious weed, the hop'. Of couse today it would be difficult to have a serious discussion about beer without assuming that hops were a vital ingredient, but actually, 'ale' was brewed on British soil without hops up to the 12th century and until introduced by the Flemish. The thing about hops is they are the perfect accompaniment to the sweet, palate full, maltiness derived from malted cereals. Lots of things are going off here. Firstly the hop provides bitterness through a groups of natural substances called alpha acids, the bitterness of which is increased one hundred-fold during wort boiling. Next, they hold essential oils, vital for deep flavour and aroma.

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