22 April 2009

What the Hell Does "Triple Hops Brewed" Mean, Anyway?

Unless you've been living under a rock, there's a good chance you've been subject to Miller Lite's newest ad campaign, in which they state that Miller Lite is "triple hops brewed". While the statement is true, it doesn't mean much, and might be a little misleading.

Imagine you're baking up a batch of cookies for sale to the public. You'd like to say you make a quality chocolate chip cookie, but you've only got 3 chocolate chips per cookie. You're starting an ad campaign for your cookies, in which you'd like to differentiate your brand. Your marketing team comes back with the follow options:

1) Don't mention the chocolate chips, and don't try to sell your cookies as chocolate chip cookies. Sell your cookies as a good time with attractive women. This has worked for you in the past, but not well enough to gain the sort of market share you'd like to have.

2) Mention the chocolate chips, but also mention the flour and eggs used in the making of your cookies. Don't mention that everyone uses these ingredients. Also don't mention that in 1982, the Center for Science in the Public Interest reported that your cookies contained propylene glycol alginate (a seaweed extract), water, barley malt, corn syrup, chemically modified hops extracts, yeast, amyloglucosidase, carbon dioxide, papain enzyme, liquid sugar, potassium metabisulfite, and Emka malt (a food coloring). I'm still taking about cookies.

3) Mention that you added chocolate chips to the cookies THREE TIMES. Which you did, technically. You might even say your cookies are "TRIPLE CHIPS BAKED".

So, cookie salesperson, which campaign would you prefer your brand run with?

* * *

Let's go back to beer, and the hops used to make it. According to How to Brew:
"There are many varieties of hops, but they are usually divided into two general categories: Bittering and Aroma."
When making almost any beer, brewers add hops at least twice, giving the beer flavors, scents, and balance.

Miller Lite's site claims that step one of the hop addition gives Miller Lite a clean flavor and aroma. The second hop addition gives the beer balance and body, and a hop taste. The third addition gives the beer its head and locks in "great taste".

All these things may be true. But if its the triple hop process that makes Miller Lite so great, wouldn't quadruple hopping be even better? Why stop at three times?

So while factually true, triple hops brewing doesn't mean all that much. Yes, there are hops in Miller Lite. But Miller Lite isn't a hoppy beer. You didn't need me to tell you that.


  1. My girlfriend has gotten annoyed with my rages over these shitty commercials. I am a pretty mellow guy, but advertising always seems to anger me ha ha.

  2. Since now they are 'triple hopping' instead of using tetrahop gold...does this mean that they are going to stop selling them in clear bottles? Or does this refer to three operations required to chemically alter the hops so that they don't skunk? (saving them big bucks on bottling)

  3. Nice article. Enjoyed this one!

  4. well, it's better than saying your beer is "frost brewed" which fucking boggles the mind. how can you "frost" brew something? that's like "fire freezing". makes no sense. unless the brewer's last name is Frost. then they got me...

    we made an IPA and hopped it 7 times. plus i bet in 25 gallons we added as many hops as they do (well, if they actually used real hops and not extract) in 500 gallons.

    but like the stupid sam adams commercial where they talk about the hops per barrel, that is COMPLETELY besides the point. first of all, some hops are 5 times as powerful as others, so weight means nothing in relation to bittering. Time boiled is also a huge factor. so unless they spell all that out in the commercial (which would take as long as reading this rambling message) you have no idea what they are actually saying. if you have a hoppy beer, brag about it. but if your beer is not hoppy, which is perfectly fine in many styles, shut the fuck up about your hops.

  5. This even beats the previous best by the same brewery: "cold-filtered" (every brewery cold filters). Or my other favorite, the age-old "fire-brewed" for full flavor (many brewers at the time used direct fire kettles).

    If only parklife's Frost brewer made a beer that was Frost cold-filtered...then we would have something truly tasteless.

  6. Thank you, Beer Geeks, for an interesting, parodical article!

    My only criticism is that you cite from "How to Brew" as opposed to dipping from the deep well of central indiana (home)brewers, many of whom you have befriended and would be more than happy to take a jab at Miller.

    Just think what would happen to our Country if the Federal Government had the advertising budget of the beer giants....uh oh, wait a sec.....they do, don't they?

  7. When the homebrewers of Indiana have a website I can google and find easily that contains the info that supports my argument, I'll cite them as often as their site comes up first in my google search.

    We're hardly professional here. I'm just running with the first thing I can dig up.

    No hard feelings - just saying.

  8. They ripped this off from Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop 3 Ale.

    It kinda goes with out saying that Clipper City puts way more hops in at any one time than Miller dose all three time combined.

  9. j.j. - last time Mike cited you guys in an article we had to pay the Mexican government $5,000 to extradite him back to America.

    And yes we kept the donkey, his name is Alberto.

  10. A) Just about every beer in the world has 3 hop additions

    B) The first addition does not add hop flavor and aroma to the beer....it is for bittering.

    Creative advertising is fine, factual inadequacies is irresponsible.

  11. 1. Many beers have 2 or 3 hop additions - typically one addition is made near the beginning of an hour long boil and this makes up much of the bitter flavor in beer. A second hop addition is added with 20-30 minutes left in the boiling time, which can provide flavor to the beer. A last addition is typically added with 10-15 minutes left in the boil, which can add flavor and aroma character. The resulting bitterness/flavor/aroma of the beer all depends on which hop varieties you choose and the amounts.

    2. Many breweries in the craft brewing world add hops many more times than 3 in order to get the exact hop character profile they want, and often add hops even after the fermentation is completed for specific aroma characteristics (dry hopping). Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA actually has a steady stream of hops dumped in from the moment it starts boiling to the moment they cut off the flame an hour later.