Lupulis in Extremis
Brewing up a MHB (Massively Hoppy Beer)
All About Beer Magazine - Volume 27, Issue 2May 1, 2006
We new brewers love hops. Sticky, resiny, pungent, citrus-drenched hops. It began as a reaction to the dumbing-down of mainstream beers, whose alpha acid levels are now about level with the human threshold, which is about 6 IBU (International Bittering Units). Like the recently starved, we eat our fill...then keep going. I used to think we’d get over it, but people often have trouble giving up their obsessions. In other words, massively hoppy beers (MHBs) are here to stay. The lineage for these beers traces back to the pale ale family, deep gold to pale amber beers that originated in England around 1800. Back then, pale ales bound for India were dosed with additional hops as a preservative. Word got back to England and the style became popular there, as well as on our side of the Atlantic. Resurgent home and craft brewers have latched onto pale ales and India pale ales (IPAs), reinventing them as we Americans tend to do. Balance, once a hallmark of the style, is jauntily tilted to the bitter side. The bad boy pine-and-citrus perfume of the uniquely American Cascade hop suffused the first beers to bear the American pale ale flag. Today, Cascade hops and its relatives are still touchstones for the style.