The active ingredient in hops may not be addictive but it is certainly habit-forming for beer drinkers, says Institute of Brewing and Distilling president, Professor Charlie Bamforth.
Professor Bamforth was asked whether brewers had become too obsessed with just one of beer’s four ingredients, on last week’s live recording of Radio Brews News at Beer DeLuxe King Street Wharf in Sydney.
He answered by recounting how his own tolerance for lupulin – the active ingredient in hops – had evolved during his time in the United States.
“When I came over to the States for the first time from the UK, I used to say to students, you know, drinking an English ale hand-poured from the cask, is like an angel weeping on your tongue – this beautiful balance of malt and hops,” Bamforth said.
“Now when I go back to England I go, ‘god, they really need some hops around here’! It’s amazing how you really do get hooked on the lupulin.”
Bamforth said that the first time he had tried Sierra Nevada’s beers, he had told founder Ken Grossman that they were about as hoppy as he could take them.
“His beers now are three times hoppier, and I drink them very happily,” he said.
“I’m sure there is an element of hops that, if the word is not addictive, it is certainly pleasurable and calming. They’ve certainly grown on me.”
Bamforth said he is not a doctor so cannot say whether there is a physiological effect at play, whereby people’s tolerance levels to lupulin actually change.
“All I do know, all I can say on that, is there are a lot of very hoppy beers now that are in the marketplace and personally I enjoy them, as long as they are in balance and as long as they don’t have a really harsh coarseness to them,” he said.
“Some of them them can be very course in their bitterness.”
Episode 82 of Radio Brews News is available to download here.