Which Hops Produce Bitter Cones?

These are field notes jotted down while studying for the Advanced Cicerone Exam.

Only Female Hops Make Beer Bitter

Did you know it’s lady hops giving your IPAs bitterness??

When you see hops hanging from a bine those are almost always the “female” cone. In fact, it’s a best practice in hop growing to eliminate a male hop plant immediately if you see one. The characteristics of male plants are much harder to control and will cause a specific type of hop (for example Columbus or Chinook) to taste slightly off or have a different alpha acid content. Male hops grow “flowers” that are used for breeding so if a male plant pops up in a hop farm, the hop cones will have seeds (which is not ideal for harvesting).

So next time you take a sip of bitter beer, thank the lady hops that made it for you!

Figure 1. a. Male inflorescence, b. stamen (male flower), c. anther, d. female inflorescences (burr stage), e. pistillate (female flower with stigmas projecting above bract that surrounds ovary), f. hop bine, leaves, and cones, g. hop bract, h. hop seed (achene). Source: Wikimedia

Figure 1. a. Male inflorescence, b. stamen (male flower), c. anther, d. female inflorescences (burr stage), e. pistillate (female flower with stigmas projecting above bract that surrounds ovary), f. hop bine, leaves, and cones, g. hop bract, h. hop seed (achene). Source: Wikimedia