HOP FLAVOUR EVALUATION

HOW TO EVALUATE HOPS USING THE 1 GALLON / 4 LITRE BREW METHOD

HOP FLAVOUR EVALUATION
(or how to evaluate hops using the 1 gallon / 4 litre brew method )

I know that after hop harvest time a lot of professional brewers go and rub hops. Rubbing the cone releases aromas that can communicate to an experienced brewer everything the hop has to offer. For the less experienced you can also evaluate a new hop variety by making a hop tea, brewing a SMaSH beer with the hops, or both.

HOP TEA

To evaluate a hop for use as an aroma hop make a hop tea. It’s easy to do and will give you a good idea of the aromas you can expect from a hop addition at flameout and beyond.

To make a hop tea, steep about a quarter of an ounce of hops to 8 ounces of near-boiling water. Don’t boil the hops, or you’ll drive off some of the delicate aromatic oils. To steep, you can use a French Press, tea ball, or tea pot made with a steeping basket.

Steep the hops for about 10-20 minutes in the hot water. Then, smell them. This will give you an idea of what aroma characteristics the hops will lend to your beer.

There are some advantages to this method of evaluating hops. First, it allows you to evaluate exactly what the hops will bring to your beer without any other ingredients getting in the way. Second, should you choose to drink the hop tea, there are supposedly several benefits to your health. Hop oils are often attributed with relaxation, aiding insomnia, promoting appetite, relieving arthritis pain, and soothing muscle spasms.

1 GALLON BREW

My favourite way to evaluate a hop variety is to put them into a beer as the action of the yeast, carbonation and bottle conditioning can change the flavour and perception of bitterness of the hops. I also like to use the same recipe to evaluate any new hop variety.

However, when it comes to evaluating homegrown hops you can only guess within a range as to the bitterness (IBU) of the variety.

Using a recipe with Magnum pellets as the bittering hop can alleviate this problem and as I have written elsewhere, Brulosphy have determined that "Magnum is a great early addition hop that imparts a smooth bitterness with little impact on flavor or aroma". 

It may also be advantageous to make the recipe simpler than the average pale ale recipe and use a SMaSH recipe.

SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop. The idea of SMaSH is to make a delicious beer using only one type of malt and one type of hop or in the case of evaluating home grown hops, two hops.

This method of stripping a beer recipe down to its most basic elements of base malt, a neutral bittering hop and a single flavour, aroma and optional dry hop addition is an excellent way to evaluate a hop variety that you haven’t used before.

You probably only want to make a few bottles to evaluate the hop so a 1 gallon/4 litre brew will give you 4 x 750ml bottles and a bit of sullage.

If you are a all grain brewer you probably want to let that go for this experiment and use Dry Malt Extract which will save you a lot of time. In fact you could probably make several in one day provided you have enough fermenters on hand. We usually do 3 or 4 in a day.

Try to keep the alcohol within reason while leaning a bit more to the hoppy side. 

ALMOST SMaSH - EXTRACT RECIPE

EXAMPLE RECIPE SPECS

BATCH SIZE4 LITRES
OG1.048
FG1.011
SRM6.6
IBU30
ABV4.8%
BOIL30 MINUTES
WATER5.0 LITRES

INGREDIENTS

650g LIGHT DRY MALT EXTRACT

5g MAGNUM @ 12%AA
(or the same hop used at 10 min addition & flame out if testing a new hop and the IBU is known)
BOIL 30 MINS

I/4 tsp IRISH MOSS or CLARIFIER OF CHOICE
BOIL 15 MINS

5g (HOP OF CHOICE eg. CASCADE @ 5.5%AA) BOIL 10 MINS

5g (HOP OF CHOICE eg. CASCADE @ 5.5%AA) FLAME OUT / STEEP 20 MINS

YEAST WLP 001 / Safale US05

(OPTIONAL)

5g (HOP OF CHOICE eg. CASCADE @ 5.5%AA) DRY HOP 3 DAYS

Use Beer Smith to calculate the bitterness of the hop additions and keep the beer around 28 - 30 IBU’s. Wild About Hops varieties have the alpha acids listed in the statistics near the bottom of each individual hop page and based on the hops being grown in North Canterbury. This will be close enough for your evaluation purposes for home grown hops.

Use a neutral yeast like WLP 001 or Safale US05. Make a yeast starter so you can use the yeast for 3-4 batches.

PROCEDURE

• Heat water to 170° and stir in malt extract until completely dissolved.
• Bring to a boil.
• Add bittering hop addition and start timer for 30 minutes.
• Follow recipe.
• Cool & Rack to your fermenter.
• Pitch yeast and ferment at 68° for 7-10 days.
• Dry hop for 3 days after 10 day fermentation.
• Bottle day 14 with 1 Coopers sugar drop per bottle.
• Bottle condition for 2-3 weeks

HOW TO EVALUATE YOUR BEER WITH YOUR CHOSEN HOP

• Download the AROMA OF HOPS flavour guide
• Chill the beer & pour into a jug leaving the yeast sediment in the bottle
• Taste the beer and use the AROMA OF HOPS sensory guide for flavour descriptors or just enjoy!

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