[quote=“dmtaylo2”]FWH = First Wort Hopping. It’s an old technique that everyone claims will provide a “smoother” bitterness, with no science to back it up. Many recent experiments have shown that it’s really not any different from just throwing the hops in at the beginning of the boil, and in fact can actually increase the bitterness very very slightly due to the prolonged contact time.
In other words, you’ll get almost exactly the same results if you just boil the hops like a regular boil addition, or should I say, you most likely will not be able to tell any difference.[/quote]
Yes and no. If you run an assay on the wort and test for bitterness level using any of the standard laboratory methods, Dave is exactly right and the hops will provide the same level of bitterness that you would expect from a long boil. But if you look at results of blind tastings, you get a different story, and there is a perception of reduced bitterness when using FWHs. Which suggests that the standard lab tests that are used for determining bitterness are not exactly in line with how people’s perception of bitterness comes out in beer. Which isn’t really that much of a surprise when you consider how sensitive human senses are, while the lab tests are simply looking for the concentration of one particular molecule that someone at some point found correlates with bitterness in the samples they were analyzing.
My personal theory (which I have no evidence to support) is that there are multiple compounds that contribute to the perception of bitterness, and which exist in roughly set proportions in the hops, but some of these can bind to the proteins that exist in wort before the hot break forms. Thus, when using FWH you get less of these compounds in the finished beer, but the one that is typically used for a marker with the lab tests is not reduced.