Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More Aroma Oil, Faster: The Dry Hopster’s Holy Grail

OSU tests IH pellets vs Cones for aroma intensity and oil extraction rates

OK. OK. You want more aroma. Do you dry hop with whole cone hops, or pellets? And how long? You’ve got limited capacity. Do you dry hop for a week, or something less than that?

Questions. For answers, where do you turn? A textbook? A magazine? Your buddy? The BA message forum? Google? Or do you just wing it?

We tried all of the above, but decided the questions were serious enough to warrant serious study utilizing the scientific method and the best available technology.

In short, we called Peter Wolfe and Dr. Tom Shellhammer at Oregon State University. They spent a year researching the questions. It’s pretty interesting, even for a liberal arts guy like me. In fact, it’s fairly startling.

We won’t post the study here, as it has not yet been published. But, for details, give us a call, and we’ll give you a closer look at the data. For now, here’s a summary.

* A 10 member sensory panel evaluated the intensity of dry hop aroma from Cascade pellets and whole cones and concluded that the pellets provided more intense aroma.

* Beer samples dry hopped for one day had significantly more aroma than beer dry hopped for 7 days.

* Irrespective of form (pellet or whole cone), the concentrations of hydrocarbon terpenes (eg, myrcene, humulene and limonene) peaked between 3 and 6 hours in dry hopped beer and then declined, while the concentrations of terpene alcohols (e.g, linalool and geraniol) continued to increase throughout the 24 hour dry hop extraction.

A few caveats.

First, not all pellets are the same. The pellets used for this study were supplied by us, Indie Hops, and we’ve previously shown that our pellets are different in terms of the average particle size, the diameter and the “bakedness” (our grist is extruded at between 106F and 115F).

We’re gratified to learn that our pellets produced about twice the intensity of aroma than whole cones. That’s huge! The conclusion reinforces what common sense told us: nature designed the hop flower to keep the oils “in”, not let them out, while IH pellets were designed by guys who wanted to get the oil “out.” We deliberately designed our mill to chop up the cone in bigger, coarser particles so that we could open up without pulverizing the oil-exuding lupulin glands.

Second, the rapid extraction rates were likely influenced by the temperature of the solution (23.3C, which may not be representative of real world conditions), and the hops were continually stirred. Although there’s been ongoing anecdotes and discussion about methods for agitating or recirculating/re-entraining hop grist in the tanks, we don’t have a reasonably available tried and true technology for re-suspending hops during dry hopping.

The research suggests, however, that the machinery needed wouldn't be too terribly difficult, and it only need to engage for a few days.

Third, the sensory panel consisted of 10 trained beer geeks who measured the aroma intensity on a scale of 0-15 based on the smell, not taste. To quantify the aroma compounds extracted (e.g., linalool, myrcene, etc), as well as the extraction rates, OSU used all the usual hi-tech stuff.

The take home: if you don’t have a torpedo, prefer (IH) pellets over cones, don’t have limited tank capacity and like big oily aromas, you’re not measurably losing anything, other than lore points, by not using whole cones.

And if you really love big oil, keep noodling and tinkering with new ways to keep those pellets circulating. And if you really love big oil but aren’t big, if you can keep those pellet particles suspended, you might also be able to save money by shaving 3-4 days from the standard dry hop schedule.

In the meantime, we’ll keep asking the questions.


The name of the unpublished manuscript is: “Dry Hop Aroma Extraction and Sensory Evaluation Report on Phase II dry hopping experiments,” by Peter Wolfe and Thomas H. Shellhamer, Ph.D, Dept. of Food Science and Technology, OSU, Corvallis, Or. (1/2012).

Note: Check out these Guth Portable Agitators used for mixing, stirring and homogenization of liquids such as wine. Could the same technology be modified for use in agitating hops during dry hopping?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Our Prez Loves Local

Corona Del Mar, CA.

Good news Craft World: President Obama loves local.

File this in the shameless “didjaseeme” department, but I have to share this. A few hours ago, I had a chance to meet President Barack Obama. You know how it works, you pay down the money, you get cleared by the secret service (whew!), you sit down over cold cuts with fellow muckety-mucks, and you get a few seconds with the most powerful man in the world.

How did I use the time? Plugging craft beer, of course. The President, pardon the pun, was all ears (hah!). When I talked about supporting local farmers, he didn’t merely jump on the sound bite, he wrestled it to the ground and owned it.

“Local? I got your local,” went The Prez. “We’ve got honey beer in the White House. Honey from bees in boxes right there near the rose garden.”

Who brews it, I asked, thinking that my good friend Jim Koch had his prints all over the prize. But no. Not only is a key ingredient sourced in the backyard, the beer itself is made in the kitchen.

I’m here to break the news: Our Prez is a backer of Home Brews!!! Turns out the White House chef, Sam Kass, and his friends have been dabbling in honey beers for some time.

When I mentioned the divine properties of Oregon grown hops, Our President didn't skip a beat. “I’d like to try some of that.”

Indie Hops is on the case. We will not rest until Our President is cooking up home brews in the White House using hops from the Willamette Valley. Or better, we’ll send him a few rhizomes, and he can plant a few Oregon hop emeralds in his backyard right next to those honey bee boxes.

By the way, it should come as no surprise that President Obama is a big fan of craft beer. He devoted a good part of his speech to the wonders of tinkering, dabbling, cultivating your muse, following your own genius, and challenging the status quo.


R. Worthington
Feb. 16, 2012

Well, after writing the above, it turns out this is no scoop (see below). I will investigate the hop planting operation and report back. Well done Sierra Nevada!


Home Brew In The Whitehouse
December 9, 2011

It was reported earlier this year that the First Family had served a homebrew in the White House during the 2011 Super Bowl.

And this was just not any homebrew. It was brewed by a White House chef with honey collected from the White House Garden.

President Barack Obama, more than any President in recent history, has often spoken of his love for craft beer & his fondess for his Illinois-based brewery Goose Island & the Chicago brewpub Piece.

Click here to view the full article courtesy of Home Beer Brew.