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Old 07-24-2011, 06:29 PM   #1
Dennisusa
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Default "Hop Tea" method for adding aromatics

Can anyone with personal experience using the “Hop Tea” method, please provide some guidance/feedback on this practice for adding hop aroma to beer. (Could I request that we keep on topic and skip all the other valid techniques of infusing hop aroma into beer such as “dry-hopping”, "hop-backs", "in-line hopping between keg & tap", etc.). I'm wanting to find out specifically about the technique of steeping hops in warm/hot water then adding the resulting “hop tea” back into the fermenter – typically after primary fermentation or during the diacetyl rest.

I'll jump-start the thread by sharing my only experiment with this. A few months ago I discovered that one of my pre-primed IPAs failed to carbonate due to a leaky poppet valve. Having already tasted this brew from a previous keg (and been underwhelmed by the lack of aroma despite significant dry-hopping), I decided to try to improve things by adding in hop tea aromatics at this very late stage. Because the beer was not yet carbonated, one can really think of the corny as being almost the same as a secondary fermentation vessel. Anyway, I started by pouring a few cups of boiling water into my French-press coffee maker and, once cooled to around 170 F, tossed in 2 oz of Cascade pellets and let it steep for about 20-30 minutes. I then syphoned the filtered hop tea into the keg (after using the press-pot's excellent built-in filter), purged the top of the keg with CO2, and force-carbonated in the refrigerator. A taste-testing 2 weeks later revealed a far bigger cascade aromatic profile than I'd hoped for and no obvious off-flavors or oxygenation. I'm often surprised at just how difficult it is to get massive hop aroma through dry-hopping – especially when the beer recipe calls for elevated residual crystal malts that resist hop absorption, yet this was so simple, so effective, yet used so little hops.

Can it really be this easy? Could this hop-tea technique (or preferably, an even better protocol than my simple first-time trial) really be a viable alternative to traditional dry-hopping? Some of the advantages that occur to me include: (1) aromatics will transfer from the hop flower to water (gravity 1.000) more easily than to wort/beer (typically 1.010 – 1.020); (2) hop aromatics also transfer to liquid more readily at 150 F than at refrigerated fermentation temps. The downsides might be (1) greater risks of late oxygenation, although a solid boil and other good beer-making practices should minimize this; (2) a degraded aromatic profile due to a brief exposure to hot water temps, rather than extended exposure to cool wort temps.

In my view, the risk of contamination should be no greater than, and possibly less than, dry hopping – but minimal in either event. It also occurred to me that instead of steeping hops hot and quick, one could steep them in 65 F water for an extended time. But I dismissed this due to the elevated risk from contamination one could expect from steeping hops without the protection offered by alcohol, hops and CO2).

Apologies in advance if I missed a thread dealing with hop tea, but the only ones I found seemed to have something else as their primary focus or lacked specific details and techniques. Perhaps my trial run with hop tea was dumb luck and the disadvantages just did not show up. Does anyone know of a microbrewery using this technique? I found nothing in Palmer or the other usual sources, although I bet they're there.

Please share all before I wreck a perfectly good 12-gallon brew testing this a second time.



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Old 07-24-2011, 07:07 PM   #2
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It's very popular to use hop teas down in AU. They use it with cooper's cans,where no DME,etc is used. You make a hop tea in the water in the BK. No more than 2.5G,& no more than about 15 mins. You could also do this in a smaller amount of water for about the same time to take the place of dry hopping,I've seen them do that too.


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Old 07-24-2011, 10:46 PM   #3
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I brewed a double IPA, at bottling I boiled by bottling sugar and some malto-dextrine. Added it to a 1 liter french press with 1oz whole leaf cascade. Let it steep for 1 hour, pressed, added to bottling bucket. Best aroma/flavor I have ever gotten. I know this is not back to the fermentor, but why open air age for any period of time and lose aroma through the airlock?

Next batch I will only do bittering additions, and try 2 oz at bottling.

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennisusa View Post

Can it really be this easy? Could this hop-tea technique (or preferably, an even better protocol than my simple first-time trial) really be a viable alternative to traditional dry-hopping?
In short, yes. And no.

What I mean is, I think that the French-press method works well and I think it's a valid method of getting more hops flavor and aroma into a finished brew. However, I do NOT think it is equal to the same aroma you get from dryhopping, but more like "whirlpool" (flame out) hops.

I think a great "one-two (three?)" punch would be to utilize all three. Whirlpool hops, dryhops, and a French-press addition. I don't think any one of them really replaces the other, but I'd say the French-press results are closer to whirlpool hops in effect.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:01 PM   #5
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I find the best hop aromas are obtained when "dryhopping" at high krausen in the primary or tea-balling in the keg. I have found the "french press" method acceptable as I did it when I completely screwed up one night, but it seemed like more work. It is just more simple to add the hops to a 2-3day primary. I have heard that active fermentation takes hop aroma away, but I think the volatile primary fermentation actually mixes the hops throughout the batch.

Whatever you find success with, you should continue. Do not look for HBT to validate you process.

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Old 07-24-2011, 11:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
I think a great "one-two (three?)" punch would be to utilize all three. Whirlpool hops, dryhops, and a French-press addition. I don't think any one of them really replaces the other, but I'd say the French-press results are closer to whirlpool hops in effect.
Right, but a lot of the aromatics from a whirlpool addition are going to be blown off during primary fermentation, right? The advantage of the french-press method is that it's done after primary (like dry-hopping), but the utilization should be better - seems like it might give more bang for the buck. I do like the idea of doing all 3 - might have to try this on my next big hoppy batch.
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Old 07-25-2011, 04:07 PM   #7
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I'm curious about this. I forgot to add my 1oz flameout hop addition on my last batch of APA this past Friday. I was just going to dry hop but now I'm thinking about trying this hop tea technique. It will to get closer to my original planned hop schedule and drink it sooner as my pipeline will be dry by then.

Or maybe I can find a 2.5-3 gallon bucket for a small secondary and split the batch, dry hop half and hop tea the other half at bottling. Hmmmm, that would be interesting.

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Old 07-25-2011, 11:34 PM   #8
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I'm also thinking about trying this. I'm a new brewer (about 5-6 batches) and even the IPA and others I dryhopped did not have that hop flavor/aroma that I was looking for. As I'm typing this, I'm having a bomber of some local DIPA that has great resiny hop aroma and I said, "This is what I'm missing."

I currently have a DIPA in primary that already has 6 oz of hops from boil. 60min, 15, and 5. Have two oz left over for dry hop but I think I'll try this hop tea during bottling. Plus a french press is only 12 bucks at Wally world.

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Old 07-26-2011, 09:37 AM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback so far.

I'm a huge fan of adding hops after flame-out (see my IBU at whirlpool thread), but with the large amount of hop aromatics I've always lost to CO2 blow-off during krauzen has left me believing this is a technique more for flavor than for aroma.

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Old 07-26-2011, 09:41 AM   #10
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This thread has inspired me to do the tea thing as well. Especially since I already have the press. Especially like StrikeThree did. Using the priming solution to make the tea sounds like a two birds one stone scenario.



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