Step 6: Bringing the Wort up to Temperature (and History!)
Once the grains have been sparged, pour in the malt extract, return the pot to the stove, and heat it back up. You'll need to stir pretty constantly to make sure the wort doesn't scorch or begin to caramelize on the bottom.
At this point, we also make the first wort addition of hops. Hops, or specifically the female flower of the hops plant, is used as a bittering and flavoring agent in most types of beer. Hops also have some natural antiseptic properties which help to stave off infection of the beer by wild yeasts and bacteria.
Add the hops to a sock and drop them in the heating mixture. This addition is mostly for flavor, though it does add some bitterness.
Keep stirring, and wait for the "Hot break," when the wort begins to boil!
While we waited, I asked Ted to talk about the history of the India Pale Ale: