hop storage

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Hebrews

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So this isn't a home grown question exactly, but I wasn't sure where else to ask.

I'm getting ready to brew and I want to use whole hops this time. I'm going to order them from an online source. how close to my brew date should I get them? I'm brewing on the 22nd of February. If I order them now, how should I store them? how long will they keep?
 

DrWill

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So this isn't a home grown question exactly, but I wasn't sure where else to ask.



I'm getting ready to brew and I want to use whole hops this time. I'm going to order them from an online source. how close to my brew date should I get them? I'm brewing on the 22nd of February. If I order them now, how should I store them? how long will they keep?

In most cases, fresher is better. If they are in small amounts (less than a box) they should be in small nitrogen flushed sealed bags. That's ideal for storing them. Keep them in the fridge until brewday.

Hops break down rapidly over time and heat and oxygen and light all accelerate the process.


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Hebrews

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awesome. thank you. I'll wait till next week to order then.
 

nagmay

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While I agree with DrWill that "fresher is better", there is a lot of misinformation about the stability of whole, dried hops.

Each type of hops has a rating on the Hop Storage Index (HSI). This varies between types because of the different types of volatile oils that they contain. Cascades, for instance, has an HSI of about 50% - this means that only 50% of the alpha acids will remain after 6 months.

However, the HSI is set by typical warehouse conditions: open air at 68°F!

Keep your hops away from light, oxygen and heat - they will stay "fresh" for much, much longer.

Vacuum sealed and in the freezer, whole hops can remain in near perfect condition for years. Ordering a few weeks early will not make a difference in flavor, but will guarantee that your hops aren't lost in the mail on brew day.
 

LovesIPA

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I store mine in resealable oxygen-barrier bags in the freezer. They stay fresh for a LONG time.
 

DrWill

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Storing your hops in the freezer in barrier bags will make them last a lot longer and a few days or even weeks will not make any difference at all.

The HSI is primarily useful for measuring the *relative* rate of deterioration. Unless you've got your hops packed in paper bags and sitting out in the garage, they won't break down as quickly as the HSI might seem to indicate.

Whole hops are somewhat more subject to deterioration than pellets (it's all about surface area!) but stored properly they will last several months.

After that, my experience has been that there is a noticeable drop off in aroma and flavour, even when stored well. It doesn't mean they're unusable, you just might have to compensate slightly.

EDIT: the more research I do the more I agree with nagmay. I think some of us who started brewing "back in the day" are sticking to words of wisdom that made sense at the time, but packaging and processing are not the same as they were. I hear people saying that hops kept frozen and anaerobic will last for years.

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