Here at We Are Mammoth, we like to celebrate our team’s accomplishments both in and out of work. Grant has been with us for more than five years and is one of our most accomplished back-end engineers. Outside of work, Grant took up the hobby of homebrewing and decided that he would combine his love for beer with his passion for development by creating an app to help homebrewers understand the different ingredients used during the brewing process, how these ingredients will impact flavor, and to remind them when to add their hops.
From here, Grant will tell us about why he made the app and why it works. You just may learn a thing or two about beer – or at the very least, enjoy one while reading about his creation.
I am a home brewer and was kind of bored with always following someone else’s recipe. I really wanted to understand why we added certain ingredients and what kind of characteristics it added to beer. Most beer consists of only three ingredients: water, grain, and hops. We use yeast to create alcohol and carbonation. Out of these ingredients, it was the hops that intrigued me the most. Timing the addition of your hops to the boiling process also changes the beer’s flavor, bitterness or aroma. Hops also act like a natural antibiotic, which I think is pretty neat.
I realized that when I brew I would often get distracted and miss my hop addition times during the boiling process. While not being exact won’t wreck your beer, it helps to be consistent so you can repeat a recipe if it turns out awesome. Who doesn’t want awesome beer every time?
“I set out to read everything I could on hops”
I set out to read everything I could on hops and what they do to beer. I read “For the Love of Hops” and all the websites/resources I could find. I learned about how the cone or flower of a hop plant contains essential oils which each bring a different characteristic to your beer. One hop could make a super grassy and resiny flavor while another would be fruity or have hints of banana. With hop addition times and the sheer variety of hops bouncing around in my head, I decided to create a mobile app to help me brew.
“Considering myself a hop nerd… I decided to go all in – ludicrous speed”
I compiled a ton of information on as many of the variety of hops I could find. I kept it simple by focusing on bitterness, flavor and aroma characteristics in each essential oil. If I combined descriptions of the various combinations of hops it would give me a lot of insight. I also read a lot of charts showing the different levels of essential oils in each variety of hop, and I decided that super-scientific types like me would love to have that information in the app as well.
So, considering myself a hop nerd at this level, I decided to go all in, ludicrous speed and included the Hop Chemistry tab in the app that teaches us about what each essential oil brings to our beer’s smell, taste and bitterness.
While working on each of these goals, I came up with the app name, HopSense. It’s a tool I use before and during my brew day to help me create my own recipes. This pairs well with the Hop Profile tab, which tells us what each variety of hop will do to our beer. The Hop Profile tab allows us to analyze a recipe we create and gives us an idea of the beer flavor.
The next goal was to create a timer that notifies me when I needed to add the different hop combinations and how much of these hops needed to be added. The Hop Additions tab is our brew day timer. We create a recipe by setting the times, quantity, and variety of hops to add during our boil process. Once that is set we can start the brew day and wait for the app to tell us when and how much to add!
Since publishing the app, I’ve used HopSense to create a Zombie Dust clone (thanks for the inspiration, 3 Floyds Brewing) that I stumbled upon as well as my second place Session IPA. I’m excited to start a series of training sessions with Two-Row Grain as my base and add several different combinations of hops to create some tasty and complex beers.