Of the four ingredients necessary for making beer–water, yeast, malted grain, and hops–hops seem at times the most iconic. I can see why. The image of the bright green, pine cone-like flowers, spread across their vine (officially known as a bine) is undeniably fetching. It’s also the case, I’m sure, when many people think of craft beer they imagine the distinctive, hop-imparted flavor and bitterness of Pale Ales and IPA’s.
In beer hops perform various functions. The malt, mashed in hot water to enable the release of maximal, fermentable sugars, creates sweetness. If you were to taste the wort (pre-beer liquid) before the hop additions, to most taste buds it would taste unpalatably sweet. One of the main things hops do is counteract this sweetness with bitterness. They create balance. Not to mention flavor and aroma.
There are untold numbers of different varietals of hops in the world. Each kind has its own unique characteristics, a distinctive smell, taste, et cetera.
Here are four our brewmaster Cole is especially fond of brewing with:
- Hallertau: The Hallertau hop is named for one of the ultimate hop growing regions in the world. The Hallertau region in Bavaria, which has been growing hops for hundreds of years, is the largest hop growing area in the world. Hallertau hops, named thereafter, offer a slightly spicy, herbal aroma, and can be found in many German beers. In our beer, Hallertau hops are featured in the Hole in the Wall Hefeweizen, Winter at Noon Dunkel, Demersville Dark Schwarzbier, and Oktoberfest.
- Kent Golding: These British hops impart pungent and floral aroma. Cole remarks how, opening a box, it’s utterly striking how floral and fecund the smell is. He likes that this hop is a touch different. He uses Kent Golding in the Rope Tow Pale Ale and Snowslip Stout, which are decidedly American beers, but with a British/American hop mixture, stand out as something unique.
- Tettnang: Cole calls Tettnang one of the quintessential German hop varietals. In many, many German beers the distinctive hop aroma is Tettnang: spicy, peppery, and herbal–yet mild. It’s widely used in German lagers as well as German wheat ales. The Tettnang hop aroma is perceptible in a number of Kalispell Brewing Co. beers. It’s used in the Coin Toss Cream Ale, the Bearhat Bock, Life’s a Beech Rauchbier, Icebow Doppelweizen, and our Dunkelweizen.
- Cascade: Cascade, arguably, is the ultimate American craft beer hop, one of the original varietals to be embraced by the movement. In the 1980s Sierra Nevada Brewing featured it, using it when big business beer dismissed it as too bitter, undesirable. Its aroma is moderately strong, and it’s known for floral, piney, and citrus notes. Cascade has been described as, “oranges and pine trees.” It’s in almost all of the Kalispell Brewing hop forward beers: Cloudcroft IPA, Rope Tow Pale Ale, Snowslip Stout, Core Shot Black IPA, Trenchant Double IPA, Broken Tine Barleywine, and more.
Here’s to hops, dear readers.