A friend and I recently threw an IPA together with the hops and grains we had on hand. We had 8oz of Cascade whole leaf hops lying around, so to spread the love, we decided to throw a couple ounces into the mash tun and mashed for 60 minutes at 155F with the rest of the grains.

The beer has since been bottled, and is quite enjoyable. But I am left clueless as to what, if anything, mashing with 2 ounces of Cascades gave us in our final product.

What will mashing with hops do for your beer?

  • I've heard they are only useful in that they bring down your mash pH a touch, but that's it.
    – Graham
    Jul 2 '12 at 20:04
  • I spoke with a couple chemists at NHC about this theory recently. They said that in order to bring down the pH measurably you'd pretty much have to fill the mash tun with hops. So while it may be theoretically possible, it's unlikely that you could really achieve it.
    – Denny Conn
    Jul 4 '12 at 15:45
  • I am new to brewing, but plan to give mash hopping try, if only because of this article. bit.ly/14xRHBs
    – user10694
    Jan 14 '15 at 3:59

I have experimented with this several times. IMO, you get nothing detectable from it. An all mash hopped beer that calculated to over 130 IBU measured only in the mid 20s. There was no detectable flavor or aroma from the mash hops.

  • This is what I was suspicious of. I figured if anything, whatever oils came out through the mash, would then act as a bittering addition. Due to your actual experimentation, this answer seems good enough for me at this point.
    – hartski
    Jul 2 '12 at 20:39
  • @Denny, you say no detectable difference, do you mean to say that the 90 IBU difference was not detectable? Maybe I misinterpret your answer, did you mash your entire hop schedule?
    – mdma
    Jul 3 '12 at 7:44
  • @hartski - hop oils add flavor and aroma, but don't add bitterness. It's the isomerisation of the humulone compounds that gives bitterness, and they are insoluble until boiled, so little bitterness will make in into the mash.
    – mdma
    Jul 3 '12 at 7:46
  • @mdma - but then you are pushing those oils through a 60 minute boil, assuming they make it out of the mash tun and into the brewpot. Would those oils survive the boil?
    – hartski
    Jul 3 '12 at 13:01
  • Ah, that's a different question. Yes, most of the oils will have boiled off, although I imagine there are some that still remain - if that were not the case, then all bittering hops would taste the same. In principle, the long contact time with the wort allows more of these oils to diffuse into the wort than what happens during the boil, and without being masked by the bittering acids. I have not tried mash hopping, so no experience to give anecdotal evidence.
    – mdma
    Jul 3 '12 at 13:56

We have tried this with our pilsener and combined it with previous batch of the same pilsener without mash hop. The bitternes was smoother and it has very nice compact aroma. Maybe just a placebo effect for us, but we gave it to our friends and the result was the same.

  • 1
    just to be sure, can you please confirm you're not talking about First Wort Hopping - the key difference being that with mash hopping, the hops don't make it to the kettle, but with FWH, they do. FWH gives results similar to what you describe.
    – mdma
    Jul 3 '12 at 13:58

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