Hops play a number of roles in the brewing process. Depending on when they are added, they contribute bitterness, flavor, aroma or something of all three. The bitterness comes from alpha acids contained in hops, while flavor and aroma come mostly from volatile oils which boil out of the wort relatively quickly — most within 15-20 minutes. We all know this is why brewers normally add flavor and aroma hops closer to the end of the boil. For maximum flavor and aroma, and to preserve as much of the volatile oils as possible, many of us brewers practice dry hopping.
I have dry hopped many batches of beer in my day with great success—but Is there a better way to get the flavor and aroma from the hops? Can we simplify our hop schedules and still achieve what we are looking for? Maybe—I read an article some time ago about how to make your own hop essence to use for brewing. You can create this ahead of time and add it at the 2 minute mark of your boil to preserve the flavors and aromas without having to dry hop or have an elaborate hop schedule. This technique calls for leaf hops but I am sure if you broke out the abacus and slide rule you could substitute for pellets…
Here is how the author did it…
Start out with 1.5 gallons of filtered water and add 4 ounces of whole leaf hops of your choice.
Bring it to boil for 20 minutes, strain and allow cooling.
You can divide it up into 1 quart jars and store in your refrigerator until brew day.
Add 1 quart in the last 2 minutes of your boil
Add 1 qt at time of bottling or kegging.
This technique intrigues me enough to give it a try, but I am not 100% sold on the amounts to use and will likely do a small test batch of beer to give it a shot. Some big breweries use hop extracts (this is far from an extract) so why can’t we homebrewers give it a try on a smaller scale? Let me know what you think….
Great Minds Drink Alike!