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Old 11-10-2013, 01:55 AM   #1
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Default Setting up a hops tasting experiment

Our homebrew club had a malt tasting event in the spring, and we want to run a hops event soon. I was surprised how little info I found on the interwebs about doing some kind of tasting.

Here are a couple of thoughts and questions, please chime in with what you think would work best, how you would do it, and if you know of material out there on this subject, point me to it!

Simple experiment: Fill mason jars 3/4 full with water, place in stock pot with water (below the level of the mason jars so they dont float) bring water to boil, add hops for 15 minutes. Let cool and strain. Ready for tasting.

Complex experiment: Same jar set up, but do 30, 15 and 5 minute additions in separate jars, so there would be 3 versions of each hops to taste (can see how profile changes with longer boil time)

Couple of questions - would a simple wort be better than water? Other thoughts?


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Old 11-10-2013, 01:58 AM   #2
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My understanding of wort and hops is that while you will get isomerization and hops flavor in water alone, it's a far harsher bitterness than you get with wort. I'd probably buy a bag of extra light DME for the experiment, and make the wort gravity 1.035ish (I guess like a yeast starter!) and hop that. It wouldn't be much more work than plain water.

I like the additions at 15/5 also, but even just the one addition might be illuminating.


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Old 11-10-2013, 02:04 AM   #3
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Good point about better isomerization / flavor in wort. If it is too bitter and nasty in water that may overshadow the point of the experiment!

The other thing I just though of as part of the experiment - maybe do the first tasting blind. I would give everyone descriptions of all the hops and after we taste one, have the group describe what they taste. I think this might help refine our tastes?

I mean, If I KNOW its Citra, will I be less likely to try and figure out what I am tasting?
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Old 11-10-2013, 02:18 AM   #4
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Has anyone tried chewing raw cones, or sucking on pellets? Just wondering if you can taste the difference.

I'm sure boiling with wort will add some character.
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Old 11-10-2013, 02:29 AM   #5
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Has anyone tried chewing raw cones, or sucking on pellets? Just wondering if you can taste the difference.

I'm sure boiling with wort will add some character.
Well, I won't say if I did or didn't, because only a moron would actually eat a hop pellet because it smelled so good.

Let me just say that you can't taste the difference between varieties, due to the intense and immediate numbing of every tastebud you ever had due to the extreme and relentless bittering that makes you try to wash your tongue.

I mean, that's what I'd have to assume if I was a big enough dumbass to eat a few pellets because they smelled so good.
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Old 11-10-2013, 03:26 AM   #6
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You could add your hop teas to a sample of a simple, but real beer that is either very lightly, or only bittered, or not hopped at all. It gives your testing hops a base to rest on.

I've tasted some home made hop teas, and although you can tell some aspects, the roughness overshadows a lot of the nuances. When added to a beer, they spring alive.

I've often spiked Yuengling Amber with a variety of hop teas to make them more interesting. But the Amber's Cascade retains its character well, so it not just the new hops you're tasting but her play with Cascade.
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Old 11-10-2013, 03:30 AM   #7
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You could add your hop teas to a sample of a simple, but real beer that is either very lightly, or only bittered, or not hopped at all. It gives your testing hops a base to rest on.

I've tasted some home made hop teas, and although you can tell some aspects, the roughness overshadows a lot of the nuances. When added to a beer, they spring alive.

I've often spiked Yuengling Amber with a variety of hop teas to make them more interesting. But the Amber's Cascade retains its character well, so it not just the new hops you're tasting but her play with Cascade.
You know, that's a great idea! Use some bland yellow beer, open them, and pop a couple of pellets (different varieties) in them. Recap quickly.

That should give you some real indication of flavors of hops like citra, centennial, cascade, etc.
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Old 11-10-2013, 07:52 AM   #8
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I remember seeing a video somewhere of a brewery testing hops with some bland yellow beer.

They just did 8oz pours, loosened up the pellets and put them in based on what I remember.

If I was going to do it & had money I'd buy a bunch of small french presses. 12 oz of Coors light, 5 pellets, steep for half an hour, press and test.
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Old 11-10-2013, 08:38 AM   #9
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I think it was either in a Sierra Nevada or Anchor Brewing interview on the BN Session where they mention using Bud Light. They simply pop open the bottle insert a couple cones and cap it again to steep for some days like a dry hop.

I'm not sure how well it would work with pellets, but an easy trial would prove if you need to strain it later or not.
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Old 11-10-2013, 10:43 AM   #10
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Well, I won't say if I did or didn't, because only a moron would actually eat a hop pellet because it smelled so good.
Call me a moron will ya yooper This hopping an especially bland beer is a great idea! Now I know what to do with my Sunday.


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