WHAT ARE HOPS AND WHY ARE THEY USED IN BREWING BEER?
Quite simply, hops are the dried female flowers of the Humulus Lupulus vine. If you are using the entire dried female flower you are using 'Leaf Hops' - 'Pellets Hops' on the other hand are the hop cones that are ground up, then pressed into pellets.
There are a number of reasons for using hops in your homebrew. The bitterness in your beer comes from hops as they are acidic, which also adds to the tanginess of your homebrew. Hops are also said to help with keeping beer from spoiling as they do have anti-bacterial properties. We use malt in our beer making (which does add sweetness), and with the use of hops the sweetness is lessened by the bitterness of the hops.
There are many different varieties of hops that are grown throughout the world, and hops serve two purposes. One is for bitterness and the other aroma. When making your beer you may use hops that are called dual purpose (Cascade, Columbus, Golding, etc.), which will impart both bitterness and give you an aromatic brew. You may choose to mix bittering and aroma hops to acheive a difference balance.