Hops in their natural form as cone hops have been used for centuries in the brewhouse. The first trials to extract the valuable components out of the hops were made by Gehlen in 1803. But only around 1920 was Baron von Horst successful in making hop extracts, which were found to be suitable by scientific brewing institutes. Since then the number of hop products has increased considerably. In this chapter the focus is on the naturally produced hop products. Chemically modified hop preparations will only be touched on.

Why are there hop products at all?

For centuries beer had been successfully brewed with cone hops. But the hops In cone form have certain disadvantages which one tried to overcome with hop products - without chemical modification of the valuable components. .

Disadvantages of cone hops:

After harvesting the dried hops have a specific weight between 100 kg and 150 kg/m³. The large volume makes transportation and storage of the bales difficult. Very large storage rooms were necessary to store a certain quantity of cone hops. As the export increased the volume for transportation was reduced by pressing the hops. Thus the first hop product came into being: pressed hops.

Hop lots of an identical hop variety can be clearly distinguished in their valuable components according to the location. Crop fluctuations also have be taken into consideration by the brewer. Cone hops are difficult to mix and homogenise. The dosage of quantities with variable proportions of resin can only be guaranteed by constantly checking the bitter values.

In connection with oxygen the valuable components of the hops are decomposed oxidatively. The stability of the alpha-acids differs considerably from variety to variety. Once the lupulin glands are damaged then the decomposition accelerates rapidly. In order to maintain the valuable components, after harvesting the hops can therefore only be pressed to a certain degree so that the particular glands are not broken open. It was Important to eliminate this disadvantage as far as possible by developing hop products.

Poor dosage properties:
Low weight and the stickiness of the hop cones make exact dosing difficult. In the face of the size of present-day coppers the automation of the hop dosage would only be realized with difficulty. Years ago hop sieves were necessary to remove the cones from the wort, today too bigger whirlpool overloading would be the result.

Fluctuating concentration of the valuable components:

Up until the mid-1990s generally classic aroma hops were used. Due to the development of hop products efforts were mad to concentrate the valuable components without modifying them.

Loss in efficiency:

Long boiling times are necessary to extract the valuable components from undamaged lupulin glands. The longer the hops are boiled the more intensively the hop oils evaporate. However, long boiling times are needed to dissolve the resins and for isomerisation. In the case of cone hops there is a loss in efficiency in the optimum evaluation of hop oils and bitter substances.

Advantages of the hop products

Reducing chemical residues:
Above all the natural nitrate content of the hops is diminished by the omission of leaf content in the end product. This is very interesting for breweries which use large hop doses or have to watch the nitrate contents due to the condition of the water. In Germany there is no risk of hops containing residues of plant protectives due to the stringent controls. By selecting certain products the brewer can however reduce remaining residues and therefore improve the quality of his beer.

Automation of the hop dosage:
Pellets or extracts can be dosed well due to their physical properties and are therefore particularly suitable for integration in automatically controlled brewing systems. The company Decker in Train is leading in this field of automatic hop dosing.
In order to brew 1,000 hectolitres the volume of cone hops is around 1,500 lt (with an assumed dosage of 6 gr alpha/hl). Here you can see how the volume is reduced by using pressed hops, hop pellets or extract. Here you can see how the volume is reduced by using pressed hops, hop pellets or extract.

Manufacturers of hop products

The HVG is co-proprietor in the biggest and most modern hop processing works in the world:
In the Hopfenveredlung St. Johann GmbH & Co KG (production of pellets) and in the NATECO2 GmbH & Co KG (over-critical CO2 extraction of natural substances). ). In addition Vacupacks for brewers, who are still brewing traditionally with hop powder or hop cones, are made at our processing plant in Mainburg.

Systematic classification of the important non-isomerized hop products for use in the brew-house

Chemically modified hops
Isomerized pellets: for use in the brew-house
Isomerized extracts: for use in the brew-house and following fermentation
Reduced extracts: for use in the brew-house and following fermentation

Special hop products
Tannin extracts: for use in the brew-house
Beta acids: for use in the brew-house
Xanthohumol products: for use in the brew-house
Hop oil preparations: for use in the brew-house and following fermentation