When hops are used in their raw or unprocessed form, directly from the bale, they are designated as whole, raw, or leaf hops. Although whole hops are not as popular today as in the past, some of the world's major brewers, as well as some craft brewers, use them in the belief that whole hops provide the best aroma. Brewers who use only whole hops believe hop products cause unacceptable flavor change in the beer.
Physical Characteristics in Evaluating Whole Hops
In using whole hops, it is very important for the brewer to use fresh and well-cared for hops. The examination of a sample of hops by hand can reveal much about the sample that is not readily accessible by chemical means. Whole hops should be relatively intact. Pressing down the palm of the hand on the sample should show the elasticity or spring of the hops. Old hops, and in particular those poorly stored, become brittle and lose their "bounce."
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