Brewer: Scott Chilleen
Brewery: Crazy Ed's Black Mountain Brewing Company, Cave Creek, Ariz.
Years of experience: Five
Education: On-the-job training
Aroma is extremely important to our beer. You taste with your nose before you taste with your mouth. When you get the head on the beer and the bubbles are actually popping, that's putting off a lot of aroma, and not just hop aroma. It's a malt aroma also.
We use a double decoction system that gives us a more malty flavor. It also gives us a more malty beer smell. We use Saaz hops for aroma hops. Czechoslovakian Saaz are one of the best aroma hops out there as far as I'm concerned.
We use a minimum boil on the Saaz — we try not to boil any of the aroma off, and that's about it. We use a fine hop. It's a real expensive hop but it's well worth it. Using high-quality products is one of the most important things to brewing good beer.
Instead of using bittering hops I use my aroma hops for bittering units also. So I do get a little extra aroma out of them. You can do this with any beer style.
What I tell every homebrewer in the world is get away from extracts and start doing some all malts because you will get a lot better malt flavor, a lot better control over your beer, and a lot better aroma and you can basically make whatever you want to make rather than making what someone has already made for you.
If you do use extract, throw in some high-quality aroma hops at the end. Don't skimp on price because it effects 100 percent of how your beer is going to taste. It's better to spend a little extra money on your hops and get the aroma that you're looking for, rather than to skimp on price and settle for what you'll get.
There is a lot more to aroma than just the hops. There's the aroma you get from the malt also. Different kind of malts give different kinds of aroma.
You can also use dry hops. That's done two ways, either with a hop emulsion or you can actually dry hop the wort. To dry hop, you let hops soak in the wort during fermentation and strain them out after fermentation before you go to your secondary fermentation or your transfer into kegs or bottles. That will give you a really high aroma.
I use hop emulsion a lot. I get it from Morris Hanberry [check spelling with A.L.]. I use a Saaz hop emulsion. Emulsion manufacturers cook the hops and turn it into hop oil. What that does is give you a chance to change your beer later in the game. Rather than having to add all your aroma at the time of the boil, this emulsion is hops that have been boiled and turned into an oil that you can literally add right to the beer to give yourself more aroma and more bitterness. We add it in a mixing tank, after fermentation, before we bottle and keg.
We pasteurize our beer so we lose a little of the aroma when we bottle. But it's necessary for shelf life. Homebrewers won't have that problem.
One last thing to consider is that anything you add to your beer will change the aroma, especially if the beer is served right. We brew chili beer and we get a lot of aroma out of the chili.
Brewer: Andrew Hazen
Brewery: Andrews Brewing Company, Lincolnville, Maine
Years of experience: Four
Education: No formal training, homebrewer for 10 years
Aroma is pretty important. When people pick up a beer they do two things. They look at it and they smell it. As a beer judge that's pretty much what I do when I first pick up a beer.
We just began dry hopping our Ruby's Golden Pale Ale, which is just what it says it is — a golden pale ale. It's a lighter beer, although all my beers have a tendency to be very full bodied. We do English ales, that's all, and they are all pretty high gravity, even the pale ale is 1.052. The porter is 1.056.
With Ruby's we wanted to do a beer that is lighter. Lighter in body, lighter in color. It demands a more delicate aroma. You don't want something overpowering. We're experimenting with a few hops now. I just ordered a Tettnanger. Even though they are German hops, I think they'll fit in with our English ales someplace.
We put our hops in the boil in two additions. We do a full hour and a half boil. We have a hopback unit made out of a 20-gallon stainless steel pot with two pieces of screen that sandwich the hops between them. It has a false bottom, upon which you place the hops. Then, 10 inches up, it has another screen that fits over the top of the hops. The inlet runs over the top of the top screen.
We circulate the just-boiled wort through the hops and then back into the boil vessel for 15 to 20 minutes. At that time we also cut the fans off in the boil vessel, so we're not sucking any of these juices up. We actually take the stack off and place a cap over the top of it and close all the doors real tight so supposedly the aroma stays in there.
We circulate the wort for about 20 minutes, right after boil, and then hook everything up to the heat exchanger and start pumping. As the beer runs out of the boil vessel, it continues to run through this hop-back unit, so this thing is hooked right to the nozzle on the boil vessel.
Anyone can build a hop back unit. They can be made out of a canning jar. Using a hop back unit is much more effective than just boiling the hops.
We do the hop back to all of our beers. We are dry hopping just Ruby's as an experiment. I've used dry hops on one batch and I can tell the difference between the aromas of the one that had been dry hopped and the one that hadn't.
If you go right from your primary to your bottles, then you can't dry hop. You need some kind of conditioning tank, although I have heard of some brewers dry hopping in the primary fermenter.
One easy thing any homebrewer can do is that at the end of the boil throw in some hops and let the wort steep for 15 minutes to half hour, covered. That should help create aroma.
We brew a high-gravity beer so it smells nice and malty. A nice, malty nose is fairly important. The nice thing about homebrewing is that you can experiment. Play around with different malts and hops to find aromas you like.
Our porter is a full-bodied beer — about as full bodied as you can get without having it a stout. That one we have a nice enough nose without dry hopping. We like it. We wouldn't want to play with it.Brewer: Kevin Matalucci
Brewery: Broad Ripple Brewpub, Indianapolis, Ind.
Years of experience: Two
Education: Siebel short course
Aroma is everything in beer. Well, not everything, but just as important as any of the beer's other characteristics such as taste and more so than appearance.
We serve English-style ales for the most part because the owner is from Yorkshire, England, so we like to use lots of hops. We do a lot of English pale ales, we have an extra special bitter and Indian pale ale. As far as aroma goes, we use Kent Goldings and Fuggels for finishing hops. We use them in the last three minutes before knock out. That's it for the most part. We use different hops for bittering, mostly because of price. Your finishing hops are the noble hops. Their alpha-acids tend to be lower than your bittering hops and they are much more costly to use.
We tried dry hopping. A couple times it worked out, once it didn't. When you dry hop you use different parts of the flower itself than when you boil the hops. The part of the hop aroma and flavor that is affected by the dry hopping is the lupulone. There are several lupulone powders available that are biologically stable. Those work wonderfully for dry hopping. You don't need a hop vac if you're filtering or anything like that because there is no sediment from the powder. Homebrewers should be able to find the powder at homebrew retailers. Homebrewers would add it to their secondary fermenter.
With the English-style ales, hops are where you do get most of your aroma. We are more interested in hop aroma than malt aroma. Although you do have plenty of your specialty malts that can give you beautiful malt aroma. That's more important with other styles.
You can identify plenty of styles by their aroma. We make a sweet porter that has that really roasty, chocolatey smell. We do a Wee Heavy Scotch ale in the winter. It has more of a malt aroma than anything. The right balance between the hops and malt for the style is what you want to achieve in your aroma. For the Wee Heavy Scotch ale we use plenty of crystal, cara-pils, DeWolf's Belgian grain and special B malts.
My final tip is the more hops the better. I like a big nose. You really need to experiment with everything when it comes to aroma — malts, hops, times. My experience has been the more hops at the finish, the more aroma. It is very hard to be consistent with your hop aroma because it is so volatile. Hope for the best and treat your beer carefully. Things like a high fermentation temperature — vigorous fermentation — will cause the hop aroma to come out of solution and blow off with your CO2.