July 3, 2015 by fhsteinbart
For years the primary assumptions about hops as used in beer is that the lower the cohumalone, the smoother the bitterness. One hop researcher now doubts this assumption. Dr. Thomas H. Shellhammer, at Oregon State University has discovered that varietal characteristics rather than cohumalone is the determining factor of hop bitterness quality as found in beer. Hop polyphenols seem to be the major indicator in quality of hop bitterness, Unfortunately, not much research has been done in this area.
This is probably because there are quite literally hundreds of hop polyphenol compounds as found in beer. This sounds more like a long term longitudinal test cross comparison of breeds of hops vs. there polyphenol constituents. Research like this could take years, even with a high performance gas/liquid chromatograph (HPGLC), and lot’s of single addition of single hop beers. Maybe we as homebrewers can assist in this quest by brewing more single hop beers with a wide range of cultivars to discover the differences and similarities between different kinds of hops. A standard I suggest is the ASBC standard beer: 12° Plato (1.048 OG), and 24 IBU’s. This would allow for the analysis of each beer to find out what distinguishing characteristics define the role of smooth vs. coarse bitterness of hops as found in beer. Hopefully a local brewing lab would volunteer to do the analysis so that we could get some more data to Dr. Shellhammer, or maybe he would entertain the suggestion of having the associates at OSU do the analyses of all the different homebrews. I’ll publish more information on that trial when I get more detailed information, so stay tuned for future developments!