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Old 07-01-2009, 09:51 PM   #1
midnightmike
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I am a Biochemist in a major pharmaceutical company, but also an avid homebrewer. I am very interested in growing my own hops, but was discouraged to see that they could only be used for flavor/aroma because of lack of information on the alpha acid content.

My job is to develop analytical methods for drug products, and so I took it upon myself to find a way to determine the alpha and beta acid content in hops. I have found a published method that looks as though it will work.

My question is this: Would there be enough interest in this for it to be worthwhile for me to purchase the equipment to routinely run this analysis? Would homebrewers be willing to spend 30 bucks or so to have me analyze their hops and give them the percent alpha and beta acids? The equipment and chemicals are costly and I just wanted to know if there would be enough interest to cover the costs to run the analysis.

Please let me know if anyone has any interest in a service like this.

Thanks,
Mike

 
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Old 07-02-2009, 03:04 PM   #2
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I would be interested, but the price has to fit my budget.

Many people grow hops to curtail some of the spending involved with purchasing hops. At ~$20 per pound, $30 to test hops may not be cost effective.

I personally have 4 Cascade (from 2 sources), 1 Sterling, 1 Centennial, & 1 Crystal. So to get all the types/sources tested, I would be out $150. If I took a hit like that, I would try either the hop tea or titration method.

Have you looked into the titration method? Being a former water tester myself, there is a way to take a known AA% and see how many drops in a fixed solution it takes to turn clear. Then take the unknown AA% and do the test. Simple math tells you the result.

Just a little food for though. I'm still interested if you could get the cost down more.

 
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Old 07-02-2009, 03:39 PM   #3
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Would also help to know how much you need to run the test. In other words, if you need 4oz of hops to run the test, most here would likely not part with them. If you need a few cones...game on.

 
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Old 07-02-2009, 03:39 PM   #4
midnightmike
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I could probably get the cost down. I need to determine how much it will cost per sample to run. The big cost would be the initial cost of equipment, but if enough people are interested, that could be solved. Also, it would be less effort to run multiple samples together so if I were to batch them together, it could be cheaper.

I'm just probing around to see if there would be enough interest to make this feasible.

 
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Old 07-02-2009, 03:44 PM   #5
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I'm sure some people would be interested. If the cost was reasonable, I might be one of them.

I have used homegrown hops for bittering. I just take the average alpha acid potential for the breed and use it or a number slightly less than average. Not very scientific, but I've been pleased with the results.
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Old 07-02-2009, 03:55 PM   #6
midnightmike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomerT View Post
Would also help to know how much you need to run the test. In other words, if you need 4oz of hops to run the test, most here would likely not part with them. If you need a few cones...game on.
I would need less than half an ounce. The cones would need to be in the condition that you plan to use them (ie dryness because water content will affect the weight which would change the %AA calculation)

 
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Old 07-02-2009, 04:28 PM   #7
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Old 07-03-2009, 02:26 PM   #8
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I've seen one method that my wife thought that she could duplicate in her medical lab. Could you share the process that you are thinking about using?
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Old 07-08-2009, 07:49 PM   #9
midnightmike
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I could run either an HPLC method or a spectrophotometric method. I'm leaning towards the spectrophotometric method since it would be cheaper and provides almost as much information.

 
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Old 07-08-2009, 07:55 PM   #10
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The thought is definitley appealing but, for years in various articles sources have been published that will run these same tests. IIRC, a USDA lab will also test an ~ounce of hops for ~$35. But, I have yet to hear from ANYONE who has had this done.

I think most who have been growing have either settled on the Aroma/Flavor aspect or have thrown caution to the wind and just trial brewed a batch to determine a "perceived bitterness" and ran with that. I've grown for over 3 years now and that is what I do.

 
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