Hop Use in the Boil

There are very many varieties of hops available to the home brewer and at first it may seem overwhelming. However, they are great for adding different flavours to a beer and give the brewer scope to make something completely unique.

When looking at different hops it’s a good idea to do some research. You will find that each variety will be categorized into groups depending on how they are best used in the brewing process:

Bittering: Used to add bitterness to the beer and balance the malt sweetness. Bittering hops are added early on during the boil to extract alpha acids from the hop. This process is called isomerisation and is most effective when the hops are boiled for around an hour.

Alpha acids in the hops are the primary source of bitterness, each variety of hop will have a different level of alpha acid present. The higher the level of acids, the more bittering power the hop has.

Aroma: These hops are most effective when added at the end of the boil. Aroma hops are added late so their volatile compounds stick around and aren’t driven off by the boiling wort. These hops all add some character to the beer which can range from floral, earthy, pine or even citrus and tropical fruit qualities.

Dual Use: As you may of guessed dual use hops give you the best of both worlds and can be added early to provide bitters or late for aroma. Dual use hops are great all rounders.


Hops can come in different forms, either pellets, whole leaf or plugs. Our recipes will use whole leaf hops as they are easier to separate from the beer after being boiled. The varieties I have suggested to use in the recipes later on are; Centennial and Cascade for the pale ale; and Fuggles and Bramling Cross in the porter.