Sunday, December 12, 2010

Huge Hop Aroma and Flavor

Am I a hophead? Yah, Id like to think I am, although I tend to shy away from very bitter beers. Trouble is that it can be difficult to make something with a really in your face hop aroma and flavor without all the bitterness you get from boiling all those hops. To get a fix for hoppy goodness without all the bitterness Ive even gone so far as to make a what was essentially a Cascade Hop Soda!

One way to try and combat this is by loading up the end of the boil with a TON of hops and getting all of you bitterness and flavor from say the 20min and less additions. However this can still produce a very bitter beer, and I tend to like things about 50-55IBU's and less. Call me greedy, but I want even more aroma and flavor than that.

When I first thought about trying this method out, I had been reading quite a bit about different breweries techniques for adding lots of hops to a beer. A common method that I had come across was adding hops to the whirlpool, which is essentially the same as adding at KO for us homebrewers. There were some though that were adding the hops in-line during the cooling process, and this really piqued my interest.

Hop oils are fairly volatile and can be easily driven off during a boil, or even as water evaporates after you turn the flame off. This is why hops added at the beginning of the boil impart much less hop character to a beer than say hops added just before you finish boiling. Digging around trying to find the boiling point of hop oils I came across pure extracts that indicated as pure compounds the boiling point was variable but around 160F or a bit higher. So, I thought why not begin chilling the wort, and after Ive brought it down to around 170F, then add huge addition of hops. (I went with 170F as it gives a bit of time to get the hops mixed in before the temp falls too much below 160F) After about 10min or so I begin chilling, albeit pretty slowly.  From 160F it generally takes me about 30-45min to get to 80F.  This is partially on purpose, as the extended time with the hops sort of replicates what breweries are doing when they chill.  Think about it, how fast do you think you could chill 200+gallons of hot wort?

Well, I first tried this technique out last fall when I had a glut of hops from the previous year. Now looking at the recipe you might think that it could be hard to discern how much character came from the 170F additions. I have since tried this method on several other beers and all displayed the same in your face hop aroma and flavor that I'm attributing to the "whirlpool" additions

Huge Hop Flavor and Aroma - one method

1. Formulate recipe as you would normally - however reserve at least 1oz (min) of hops to add after boil
2. After you turn off the flame, immediately begin chilling the wort
3. When the wort is approximately 170F, stop chilling and mix in the hops
4. Allow the hops to sit in wort a minute or two (pasteurize everything (15sec @ 160F) + absorb flavor)
5. Immediately chill wort to pitch temps and ferment as usual

Note - There are many other ways to get huge hop flavor and aroma into a beer (oils, etc) however none that I have tried seem to replicate the intense flavors that you can get in a beer with this method. Does this technique work? yes, extremely well, however it is not the end-all be-all for making a really hoppy beer. Rather its just another way to get a very intense hoppiness into a beer

I a highly recommend adding more than 1oz of hops in this manner, to really accentuate the hops (I do still advocate at least a bit in the 15-20min range for depth of flavor)

It also pays to dry hop, although not till half or so the the keg is gone for a couple reasons, one is because dry hopping at this point will not be very noticeable due to the huge hop character from the 170F addition. The other reason is, that with hoppy beers, the aroma seems to fade as the beer is drank, personally I believe this is due to the volatility of the flavor and aroma compounds. They tend to prefer to be in the gas, rather than in the liquid, and as you drink the beer, there is more headspace in the keg resulting in more hop flavor/aroma compounds transferring into the CO2 in the headspace. By dry hopping you are adding more of those compounds back into the beer slowing the process down a bit

Beers that Used the Technique


Neil McDonald said...

This is a nice technique. I like putting late additions in as soon as I finish the boil but I guess cooling a bit before the late addition does help to preserve even more of the aroma.

Great site by the way.

Matt said...

Sounds interesting. Have you tried first wort hopping? I don't know the science behind it, but from what I have read something happens at the 150F wort temp that allows the flavor to persist throughout the boil. The typical recommendation is to move the 30 & 15 minute hops to first wort hop and then use your bittering hop as usual. People have stated this creates a smoother bitterness and great hop flavor.

Ryan said...

Matt - Actually it gets thrown around a lot that first wort hopping increases hop flavor, but its simply not true, if you look at the paper that is cited as the source, the only thing that is talked about is the smoothness of the beer, nothing about the hop flavor

Neil - thanks I appreciate it, and I really do suggest that you try cooling a bit before adding the hops

Matt said...

Thanks for the clarification. I made an IPA with FWH a couple weeks ago. I'll sample today and if the flavor is lacking I may have to make a hop tea to save it. I moved the flavor addition to FWH and kept the aroma addition at 5 mins.

Ryan said...

Hey no problem and if you are as big of a beer geek as I am I can send you a copy of the paper to read

I hope your IPA turns out to be too hoppy!

Jorge - Brew Beer And Drink It said...

So would adding hops at 160 F post boil add more hop aroma or hop flavor or both?

I would guess more hop aroma, but have never tried this...

I usually think of hops as..

Bittering hops: boil for 40+ min
Flavor hops: boil for 20 - 40 min
Aroma hops: Boil for less than 20 min (including dry hopping, krausen hopping, etc.)

Thanks for sharing...

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