Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

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Binkie Huckaback
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Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Sun Apr 21, 2024 10:14 pm

I have a 1922 recipe for a beer no longer produced I'd like to try out and it calls for .75 oz additions of fuggles at 90, 60 and 30 minutes. I suspect AA levels in hops may, over 100 years on be higher due to improvements in agriculture. Does anyone know if this is indeed the case and have any idea how much higher AA levels now are?

nallum
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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by nallum » Sun Apr 21, 2024 10:43 pm

Only assuming improvements generally, including the validity of AA% suggested on the label (at the time an average was measured) and theoretical extraction, etc. Best assessed empirically, imo. Add more or less according to taste. Don’t rely on software 100%. It’s always a guide, at best, generally. Treat it as such and hone the skills as a brewer. No software or shiny piece of equipment replaces that, to be honest.

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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Sun Apr 21, 2024 10:49 pm

That's a great answer nallum. Thanks

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Jim
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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by Jim » Mon Apr 22, 2024 7:42 am

I'm pretty sure that the brewing industry has driven hop growers to develop strains that produce more AA per kilo for purely commercial reasons. That's been going on for decades.
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Binkie Huckaback
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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Mon Apr 22, 2024 11:58 am

Thanks Jim

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JonB
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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by JonB » Mon Apr 22, 2024 4:10 pm

Jim's point is definitely valid, but also be aware that the pelletisation process has got a LOT better in the last 20 years as growers and brewers have become more aware of the importance of volatile oils, etc. and there is now a trend for hops to be grown with an emphasis on oils (i.e. flavour and aroma contributions) rather than AA due to market demands, though this is likely to apply more to US/Au/NZ/"trendy" varieties who's primary target market is the craft beer industry (see Sabro, Vic's Secret, etc.)

I would be sorely tempted to base the grams in old recipes on "whole leaf" hops available today to cover you, but brew with the view you will have to adjust to taste. Also take a very critical look at the BU:GU ratio generated from said recipe versus the BJCP guidelines for the style. If it's close you're probably OK, if it's a long way out I'd seriously consider reducing the bittering addition to bring it more in line with the style. You're more likely to have to reduce it rather than increase for the reasons Jim has outlined...

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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Tue Apr 23, 2024 9:30 am

Thanks JonB. It's a1922 Wadworths recipe I spotted on Ron Pattinson's website. It calls for fuggles and I think it might be a good idea to compare it to modern recipes for similar styles to see if it seems to be way out.

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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by Cobnut » Wed Apr 24, 2024 8:32 am

It is also worth remembering that in that time the main malt used in British beers was probably something like Chevallier, which has been resurrected through the excellent work of Chris Ridout at the John Innes Centre and now regularly available from Crisps. I have used Chevallier a few times and also read a fair bit about it. The received wisdom is that Chevallier needs significantly higher hopping rates to deliver the same perceived bitterness as beers made with more modern malts. So if you are using a more modern malt - and I include Maris Otter here - then you should probably dial back at least the bittering hops accordingly (sorry, can't recall the % increase suggested when using Chevallier, but t'internet is your friend here!).

It may be that you will need to make multiple batches to dial into the beer you're seeking.

And when you've got there, perhaps share the outcome here.

Oh, and one other suggestion: ask a question of Ron on his blog page about hopping rates with modern hops/malts v what was contemporary in 1922; it could be that he has accounted for this in the recipe. He does occasionally visit JBK, I believe, so it's always possible that he may comment here.
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Re: Changes in AA Levels Over the Years

Post by patto1ro » Thu Apr 25, 2024 9:38 pm

Have the alpha levels of Fuggles and Goldings increased in the last 100 years? No. At least not according to information I have. I've analyses of Goldings from before WW II that are 7% alpha.

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