I'm looking to brew a pLambic within a couple of weeks, but don't have any old hops. I can't seem to find a source of aged or debittered hops anywhere, so I am considering aging methods.
I have several varieties available (Perle, Crystal, Liberty, Cascade, Simcoe, Columbus, Amarillo, Saaz, and more). All are whole hops (2007 crop) except for the Simcoe, Saaz, and Columbus (pellets; 2008). All of these hops have been stored in foodsaver bags in the freezer for the entire time I've had them.
Finally, cutting to the chase... aging methods I've seen are:
1. Age in "improper" storage conditions for a few years (obviously not feasible in my case)
2. Put in the oven under low heat, 150F, for a few hours
3. Put in the oven under medium heat, 200-250F, for a few hours
I'd like to avoid #3 above.
What I was thinking was... I'll break apart the pellets (Saaz) and leave them exposed to the air in a warm room for a couple of days. I think pellets, because of their nature, will degrade faster than whole hops once they have been broken apart. This should aid in oxidation. Two days before brewday, I'll warm the hops in a 150F oven for two hours.
I know traditionally lambics use ~3oz/5 gallons, but I think that isn't necessary for a pLambic innoculated with cultures. The antimicrobial properties of the hops are necessary in an environment with high levels of "contaminant" organisms, which isn't the case in a pLambic pitched from pure cultures. I plan on using WY1056 in primary and pitching the Wyeast Lambic Blend in secondary (and a few points above the pre-Brett/Pedio FG).
I suppose I'm looking for validation on my process.