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View Full Version : Whats the deal with hops? Are they expensive? What about calories?


pkbites
04-30-2010, 02:29 AM
I like beer. Bitter beer. The bitterer the better, I always say.
I also like inexpensive beer. The cheaper the better, I always say.

Alas, never the twain shall meet.

Why do cheap brews lack any real presence of hops? Are they cost prohibitive? I don't expect Mawaukeys Beast to taste like Hopslam (http://www.bellsbeer.com/index.php?c=product_info&content=22) but would it kill them financially to have some hops in it?

And what about calories? Most of the calories in beer comes from alcohol. The other day someone gave me a Miller Lite. Says "triple hopped" right on the label. I couldn't taste any. You'd think they'd be willing to do something to light beer to actually make it taste like something.

Mangetout
04-30-2010, 03:06 AM
The expensive part of making beer is the energy required to prepare the malt, then boil the wort to extract it. Hops aren't an especially expensive ingredient, but I expect the reason they're not used in greater quantity, more widely, is that most people probably aren't like you - they probably don't like an extra-hopped beer, as it's too bitter.

Personally, I find very hoppy beers interesting, but they're not something I could sit and drink a gallon of. A bit like 80% dark chocolate - nice, complex and stimulating, but not to be taken in quantity.

firstname
04-30-2010, 03:12 AM
I have no idea what hops cost (on a scale for a brewery) but for use in homebrew they really are inexpensive. So I'm guessing its not a cost thing.

As for bitterness it depends on 1) the type of hops used, 2) when they are added to the boil (earlier = more bitterness). The early hops are called bittering, then usually they add flavour hops and late in the boil aroma hops.

As to why cheap beer isn't very hoppy i'd say its mainly to do with marketability as opposed to price of ingredients. On that note where i am two of the cheapest beers availible are bitters (victoria bitter and XXXX bitter), so perhaps you should consider a move down under :)

Balthisar
04-30-2010, 09:12 AM
I've been looking for an IPA lately, but the best I could find was an ESB. They're always more expensive than a decent, non-hoppy Vienna lager, but they make the latter here and the former are always imported.

Squink
04-30-2010, 09:30 AM
Alas, never the twain shall meet.You could get yourself a bottle of Hops extract (http://www.google.com/search?q=hops+extract&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a), or Angostura bitters (http://www.angosturabitters.com/history.htm) and add some to your wimpy light beer.
Better yet, you could buy some hops at the local cooop or brew store, and make your own extract.

kayaker
04-30-2010, 09:41 AM
You could get yourself a bottle of Hops extract (http://www.google.com/search?q=hops+extract&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a), or Angostura bitters (http://www.angosturabitters.com/history.htm) and add some to your wimpy light beer.
Better yet, you could buy some hops at the local cooop or brew store, and make your own extract.

Even better yet, grow your own hops and brew your own beer.

pkbites
04-30-2010, 10:33 AM
Angostura bitters

No hops in that.

brew your own beer.

Been there, done that. It's fun but not exactly cheap to do.
I can buy a 4 pack of Keystone pints for $1.88 around here, and a case of Mountain Creek for $5.99 when it's on special. Try brewing it for that.

pulykamell
04-30-2010, 10:48 AM
Been there, done that. It's fun but not exactly cheap to do.
I can buy a 4 pack of Keystone pints for $1.88 around here, and a case of Mountain Creek for $5.99 when it's on special. Try brewing it for that.

True, but for the good beers, it's economical. It's been awhile, but I still mostly brew from extract or partial mashes (so your costs should be cheaper if you do a full mash), and it ends up costing me about 50-75 cents a bottle in ingredients (I'm not counting start-up equipment costs) to brew something quite hoppy around 6% abv. Considering that 6-packs of most craft brewed IPAs cost $8.99 or $9.99 around here ($1.50-$1.67 per bottle), that does work out quite a bit cheaper.

SmellMyWort
04-30-2010, 11:21 AM
Ha, Mountain Creek...it's been a while since I put myself through a few cans of that!

Have you tried Point's Pale Ale? Not rock-bottom price but probably still cheaper than some of the hoppy locals like Capital or Ale Asylum. I'd also try O'so Hopdinger (not sure how they're priced, though). Berghoff probably has a pale ale and they tend to be on the cheaper side as well.

Though not hoppy, another cheap beer with some character is Huber Bock.

pkbites
04-30-2010, 11:45 AM
Have you tried Point's Pale Ale? Not rock-bottom price but probably still cheaper than some of the hoppy locals like Capital or Ale Asylum. I'd also try O'so Hopdinger (not sure how they're priced, though). Berghoff probably has a pale ale and they tend to be on the cheaper side as well.

Though not hoppy, another cheap beer with some character is Huber Bock.

I've tried several hundred beers (http://www.ratebeer.com/user/4000/)

None of these you listed are cheap at all. If I'm not buying my dirt cheap brands I usually go right for Samuel Adams or Sprecher.

I found a quaint little liquor store over in Wauwatosa that's selling individual bottles of most micros & exports for 99 cents-$1.39 each. I really wish more stores did this. it allows one to try a brew without having to buy an entire 6 or 12 pack.

FluffyBob
04-30-2010, 11:56 AM
Cheap beer, although it has fiercely brand loyal and die hard fans, is not exactly made for connoisseurs. The major producers aim for mediocrity as far as I can tell because that's what they have determined is desired by the majority of their clientele.

In my experience, loyal cheap brand beer drinkers usually find (what I consider to be) quality and flavourful beers distasteful. In the prairie provinces the truly dreadful Old Style Pilsner (http://www.lethbianlove.ca/2009/03/02/old-style-pilsner-the-pride-of-lethbridge/) is very popular among volume beer drinkers. On a few occasions, in response to interest in what I am drinking, I have handed such folk a real Pilsner - Urquell or Chekvar, to see them spit it out in disgust. There is no accounting for taste.

You would think with all the beer produced in North America you could find a cheap hoppy beer but you are probably out of luck. Lots of opportunity overseas I bet though.

For example, San Miguel in the Philippines is a good quality, very hoppy lager and awesomely cheap, but the export version is toned down to mediocrity. Perhaps you could obtain the real stuff but it probably isnt going to be cheap anymore.

Why not just fork out for the good stuff dude? Its only beer, even the premium stuff is not really expensive. Champagne is expensive. Single malt is expensive. Beer is cheap.

pkbites
04-30-2010, 11:58 AM
Why not just fork out for the good stuff dude?

Beer is cheap.




Because so am I! :p

hogarth
04-30-2010, 12:14 PM
In the prairie provinces the truly dreadful Old Style Pilsner (http://www.lethbianlove.ca/2009/03/02/old-style-pilsner-the-pride-of-lethbridge/) is very popular among volume beer drinkers.
That's one of the things I miss, living in Ontario. The taste may not be that great, but ah! nostalgia...

Shot From Guns
04-30-2010, 12:59 PM
I found a quaint little liquor store over in Wauwatosa that's selling individual bottles of most micros & exports for 99 cents-$1.39 each.

Liquor store in 'Tosa... Ray's? I can't remember if they sell individual bottles, though.

pkbites
04-30-2010, 01:04 PM
Liquor store in 'Tosa... Ray's? I can't remember if they sell individual bottles, though.

I forget the name of it (Breeze Thru? Something like that). It's on Bluemound about 111th street.

bump
04-30-2010, 01:38 PM
Cheap beer, although it has fiercely brand loyal and die hard fans, is not exactly made for connoisseurs. The major producers aim for mediocrity as far as I can tell because that's what they have determined is desired by the majority of their clientele.

This. Basically like others have said, the primary costs in commercial brewing are probably the energy for your mash and boil, and also for the bottles and caps. Unless you're doing something really remarkable, the cost of the hops isn't very much.


That being said, the average person that buys Bud Light probably thinks that regular old Bud is too heavy or too bitter for them, and doesn't even know what to do with something like a Warsteiner Dunkel. Too many of that brand of beer drinker associate color and bitterness with higher alcoholic strength- think Guinness. They'll say "Man... Guinness will knock you on your ass! It's strong stuff!", when in fact it's slightly lower in alcohol than Bud Light or at best even with it.

Basically the major brewers brew what sells, and the Bud/Coors/Miller Lite stuff is probably exactly what people like, at the price they like.

In other words, there's a reason that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale hasn't supplanted Bud Light as the beer of choice in America- it's not what people like.

silenus
04-30-2010, 02:08 PM
In other words, there's a reason that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale hasn't supplanted Bud Light as the beer of choice in America- it's not what people like.

Yeah, but what do they know? Buncha philistines......

psycat90
04-30-2010, 02:41 PM
Yeah, but what do they know? Buncha philistines......

Seriously, that sentence cut me to the bone.



True, but for the good beers, it's economical. It's been awhile, but I still mostly brew from extract or partial mashes (so your costs should be cheaper if you do a full mash), and it ends up costing me about 50-75 cents a bottle in ingredients (I'm not counting start-up equipment costs) to brew something quite hoppy around 6% abv. Considering that 6-packs of most craft brewed IPAs cost $8.99 or $9.99 around here ($1.50-$1.67 per bottle), that does work out quite a bit cheaper.

Totally. We started growing our own hops last year, and I am so glad we did. We've only got a few (a couple fuggles, chinook, cascade, and I think one more that I'm forgetting), but they look so pretty as they are growing and before they are harvested. Plus I love just grabbing a cone and rolling it between my fingers to release all the lovely lupulin granules to bask in the delicious hoppy aroma.

Shot From Guns
04-30-2010, 02:46 PM
I forget the name of it (Breeze Thru? Something like that). It's on Bluemound about 111th street.

Google Maps suggests that you are correct. I live downtown, but I've got friends out in 'Tosa, so I'll have to keep the place in mind. Thanks!

dangermom
04-30-2010, 02:57 PM
In other words, there's a reason that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale hasn't supplanted Bud Light as the beer of choice in America- it's not what people like.The Sierra Nevada Brewery is here in town, and the owner has a field of experimental hops growing next to it, on a (very large) prime chunk of commercial real estate that would otherwise have a Home Depot or something built on it. :) Which makes me very happy (it's so typical of here), even though I hate driving by the place when they're brewing, I can't stand that smell.

PsychedelicSanta
04-30-2010, 03:06 PM
Triple hopped probably only means that they put in hops three times during the wort-boiling process. Hops put earlier on provide most of the bitterness. Late added hops give a green-taste and not much bitterness. So you could have a triple hopped beer with not much bitterness.

Though I doubt that Miller Lite actually goes through all that. It's probably just a marketing phrase.

Shot From Guns
04-30-2010, 03:11 PM
Though I doubt that Miller Lite actually goes through all that. It's probably just a marketing phrase.

That seems pretty specific (and easily verified) to me. I can't imagine they wouldn't get the pants sued off if they claimed a beer was triple-hopped and it wasn't.

silenus
04-30-2010, 03:35 PM
To Miller, triple-hopped probably means they used three hop cones per batch.

DanBlather
04-30-2010, 03:36 PM
You know why Australian beer is so good?
They use kangaroo hops.

Johnny Angel
04-30-2010, 03:48 PM
Been there, done that. It's fun but not exactly cheap to do.
I can buy a 4 pack of Keystone pints for $1.88 around here, and a case of Mountain Creek for $5.99 when it's on special. Try brewing it for that.
I used to brew 6% beer for less than $0.50 a bottle. The secret is lots of corn sugar. I knew a guy who managed to get it down to $0.25 per bottle by buying sugar and malt in bulk. Unfortunately, when he moved from Alabama to Mississippi, he found he got far more off-flavors with his recipe. I found the same thing happened with mine when I moved to Texas, so it would appear that your local water has a lot to do with how happy you're going to be throwing a lip over a brew that cheap.

But maybe lots of hops would cover the tartness.

silenus
04-30-2010, 04:24 PM
Blech. The whole point of home-brewing is to be able to avoid crap like corn sugar and rice adjuncts in your beer. You'll never be able to compete with a mega-brewer on a cost per buzz basis, so you brew for taste instead.