Most people are much worried about the number of Hops to be used. Sometimes they forget that at what stage a hop is introduced as important as the right quantity.
4 Types of Hops
- Bitterness Hops
- Aromatic Hops
- Noble Hops
- Dual purpose hops
Bitterness hops are often introduced early in the boil (at least 30 min before flame off). The high-temperature boil will allow for the resins to be extracted to get the maximum bitterness. However, the downside is that it will significantly hamper your ability to retain the aromas. The last 10-15 min before the beginning of the wort cool is the best time to introduce aromatic hops. Please cover the wort as well. It will allow you to trap the aromas that most home brewers simply die for. It allows for an optimal mix of extraction of resins (bittering oils) and aroma to be infused in your wort.
IPAs and other hoppy styles will call for Dry Hopping. It is essentially infusing hops. I prefer in the leaf or cone form rather than pellets which disintegrate into powder and hampers clarity. Since there is no heating, the bitterness is low. Isomerization of hops during mashing is the main reason for bitterness. Without the bitterness, the hoppy aromas are fully extracted in the presence of the alcohol which acts as a solvent. I typically infuse hops 2 weeks prior to bottling. This allows for maximum extraction (hops are expensive spices) and allows all the complex flavors and aromas to blend well. However, care should be taken to put hops in a bag which is weighed down with a glass marble. A floating leaf is a perfect harbor for unwanted microbes (read mold). Microbes can cause infection and make your precious into barley cider. Brewmasters also use dry hopping to get consistent flavors & blends in their bottles and remove the differences between different batches. However, care needs to be taken as hops can easily overpower your beer.