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Hops impart bitterness, flavour and aroma to beer. Using some hops, and a little grain, will greatly improve the quality and flavour of your kit beers. Added hops will also help with head retention which is sometimes a problem with kit beers.

You can use either the packaged finishing hops 12 grams of hop pellets in an oversized tea-bag, or loose pellets. Loose pellets work out at much more cheaply, about 1/3 the price.

The first thing to do is to think about the beer you want to brew. Choose a hop variety appropriate to the style, and decide whether it is bitterness, flavour or aroma that you want from the extra hops because that will influence the method(s) you use.


Whether you use the bagged finishing hops or loose pellets, there are four basic methods:

  1. Boiling gives maximum bitterness. Boil the hops in about 0.5 1 liters of water, preferably with about 50 - 100 grams of malt extract. Boil for at least 5 minutes. The longer you boil the hops the more bitterness you will impart. Use this hot liquid in place of some of the hot water you use to mix up your other ingredients.
  2. Steeping gives some bitterness and some flavour. Let the hops steep in about 300 500 mls of very hot water for about 10 -15 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. Again use this liquid in place of some of your hot mixing water.
  3. Whole hopping gives a bit of everything. Simply add the hops directly to the fermenter when you add the hot water to mix your ingredients. This is the easiest and perhaps the best to try for your first time.
  4. Dry or post-fermentation hopping gives aroma to the finished beer. Just add the hops to the fermenter once the peak of fermentation has passed. That is, once the head of foam on the fermenting beer has started to subside and/or once movement in the air lock has slowed.
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