Wasn't sure if I should post this here or under General Discussion. A few of us had a discussion about cold smoking hops. I was interested to see if it'd impart some smoke flavor onto a beer. After trying it out on a smoke weizen beer, it seemed to work well for me. Figured I'd share my process:
Cold Smoking Hops
The intention of cold smoking hops is to add a smoke flavor onto hops. The smoked hops can then be used to dry hop during secondary fermentation. During this process the hop flavor and aroma along with a very subtle smoke flavor is imparted to the beer. This process may be desirable if you're looking for a very subtle hint of smoke without using a smoked malt. Adding a smoke malt can have an effect on the color and gravity of your lighter beers, so maybe this can help. Have not tried this on higher gravity beers.
What you need
Assemble a cold smoker
- 1 Soldering Iron (60W+ if possible)
- 1 Empty soup or soda can.
- 1+ oz of whole leaf hops
- Handful of your preferred wood chips in small pieces.
- Grill or something to contain the smoke.
- Cookie Rack
- Spray bottle with water
This is pretty straight forward. Put wood chips in the empty can, and jam the soldering iron in through the top. What I found was that smaller chips are easier to burn. You can use whatever you want, I used applewood and it worked well.
Smoking the hops
Place the hops you're smoking onto the cookie rack. We want to use the cookie rack so the smoke can touch the hops from all sides. Put the rack on your grill. We won't actually turn the grill on, we just need some sort of containment. You could probably assemble a container out of a metal trash can or terracotta pot as well if you wish.
Position the can/soldering iron under the rack with the hops if you can, and plug in the iron. In a few minutes, smoke should plume out of the can.
Every 15-30 minutes, spritz some water on the hops to make them a little damp (not overly wet). They should dry out by the time you're done.
Continue smoking for 1-2 hours. You can tell when you're done. Just take a whiff of the hops, you should smell a little of the wood.
Adding the hops to the secondary
Funnel the whole hops into the secondary fermenter. Rack your beer on top as you normally would with dry hopping. Let this sit for however long you'd like to dry hop. I did it for 7 days. You may want to avoid dry hopping any less than this. I noticed that the smoke flavor seems to intensify the longer the hops steep.
I used a cheapo 60W soldering iron. Apparently it's god awful at maintaining a bead of solder, so useless for soldering...but hey for $8 it sure gets hot. Take a look on Amazon
DON'T USE A SOLDERING IRON THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY USED TO SOLDER!
Just in case you know...maybe it was used to melt lead. Probably not a problem but why risk it? EE's...get yourself a separate soldering iron for this.
At first I didn't notice any smoke taste in my hydrometer samples. It became more noticeable after a few days. It's a very very subtle smoke, but you can tell it's there. It used Citra hops smoked with applewood to dry hop a wheat beer. It actually gave an interesting citrus (lemon) and apple flavor/aroma to the finished wheat beer.
Kind of curious how well this process would work on fresh wet hops. I'm picking up some fresh citra in September. Was thinking of making a Surly Wet clone (or just your standard IPA). Maybe I'll consider adding a touch of smoke to it. ...Although I bet half of the HBT community would murder me for doing such a thing to such gloriously fresh hops.