From the HBD Archive
Subject: hops and light
Date: 1989-08-24 17:44:36 GMT

I have been hearing quite a bit about the importance of keeping ones
beer away from light, as certain spectra interact with the hops causing
an unpleasant 'skunky' flavor. This reaction, apparently, can happen
within a matter of hours. This also helps explain the necessity of
storing hops in a dark, cool, airtight place (reducing oxidation is
another reason).

In my backyard I have three hop plants (one year old Brewer's Gold)
happily producing flowers. Papazian's book indicates how to check
for ripeness (standard hop odor, presence of yellowish resin at base
of petals).

My burning question is the obvious one. Why don't the hops on the vine,
sitting in the full sun, develop these skunky odors? Is it because
the hop resins contain water? (If so, then beer -- mostly water --
should be immune to light.) Another response is that on the vine the
resins haven't yet been produced. (So they miraculously all get
produced 15 minutes before you happen to pick the hops.) The only thing
that slightly makes sense is that the acids in the resin chemically
change when dried, making them susceptible to light. If this is the
case, then I *have* to dry my hops before use and cannot simply pick
some fresh hops and throw them into boiling wort.

Does anyone know how the light affects the hop flavor?

Chris Wilson

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