why is beer bitter?

I’m just talking out of my rear end here, but I think that hops are essential in order for beer to taste like ‘beer’. In large (or even not so large) quantities they impart more or less bitterness to the beer, but I think you need *some *hops to give the brew a ‘beer flavor’; without hops at all it just doesn’t taste like beer.

And to address the OP, there are quite a few beers, as you’ve already discovered, that are *not *bitter. They still have hops because ‘hops=beer’, but without the unpleasant (to you) bitterness that’s associated with larger quantities.

I always assumed it was the same reason that sodas were carbonated, without something to offset the sweetness it would be too sugary for anyone to drink substantial amounts.

The existence and historical value of black peppercorns says otherwise.

Not to mention 5 Spice powder, which has (ta-da!) one of each taste in it.

Rogue Brewery, at least at one of their Oregon sites, is doing some amazing things with no-hop beers. They are interesting, they are recognizably beer, and they are lovely. However, so far as I can tell, they also don’t ship worth a damn. That, at least, was my understanding back in October when I had some of them.

I’ve definitely sought out slight bittering agents for cooking, as needed. I am not great at inventing my own recipes, but it’s clear that bitter is really a required flavor for a well-balanced dish. Doesn’t need a lot, necessarily, but it needs some. Even brownies have a slight edge of “bitter” for all that they are SWEET.

I suspect, Mr Downtown, that’s the biggest part of it. A hint of bitter often brings out a roundness to flavors in something that might need it. As I recall, even the no-hop beers from Rogue had bitter elements to them. One was tea-based, for example.

Just thought of a hop-less beer that I actually enjoyed. I was judging a homebrew competition and one entrant was a Spruce Beer, the brewers used fresh spruce branch tips, I believe the wort was poured over them on the way into the fermenter, but I could be wrong.

It was quite tasty, I thought, but it didn’t fare well with the other judges.

So there’s no relationship between the hops and the inability to serve beer very cold? There’s no particular reason that IPAs are so hoppy?

Well aside from the fact that they taste good that way.

Guinness tends to be a popular very non bitter beer, FWIW.

No, and that’s the style profile. IPAs are hoppy to off-set the increased malt and alcohol content.

Huh. This is a rather fascinating thread, as I’m someone that finds beer (and apparently anything with hops) overwhelmingly bitter. Which is odd, considering that I do like bitter things such as tea, coffee, dark chocolate, bitters in mixed drinks, etc. (Heck, I’ll drink a good orange bitters straight. Yum.)

I definitely need to keep an eye out for these hop-less drinks. (None of that nasty stuff such as wine coolers, etc. If I wanted a bunch of sugar and artificial flavors to drink, I’ll go for a soda.)

<< Honk if you love peace and quiet. >>

Beer is incredibly bitter to me, I cannot stand it. I once went to a party and the only alcoholic beverage available was beer… I couldn’t even finish one drink. It was just unpleasant, and was a Budweiser.

Stick to white wine. That leaves more beer for the rest of us.

But you repeat yourself.

I don’t know about historically, but my go-to camping and hiking beers are all IPA’s because they’re still pretty good when they’re warm.

I was with you up until 2 years ago. I hated bitter beers and did not understand why IPAs were a thing. I went through a period where I tried a new beer every time that I drank. After several months IPAs simply started tasting better and better to me. Now I love them.

That’s true of just about any British beer. The proper serving temperature is within 5º F of what it was brewed at.

No True Scotsman fallacy.

Found another example of a beer brewed without hops. In this case they used caraway seed. It’s another one of those “vintage” recipes, or in this case, one where they guessed what would have been available at the time.


Oh, thanks for the reminder. I’d forgotten Scottish ales, which also tend towards the sweet end of the spectrum. Nice catch.