Hop Hash extraction, an experiment.

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Now Drinking: Alesmith Speedway Stout  |  Now Listening: Descendents – Everything Sucks

The roller coaster ride of 2016 saw many trends and happenings that are surely memorable. Some will last, some have already been forgotten, and some seem to be still taking hold as we transition into the new year. The beer world is no different, with the most prevalent trend being the hazy, juicy, over the top dry hopped New England style IPA.

Characterized by a turbid and hazy appearance, these beers utilize the hop in a much less bittering-oriented way. Dry hopped to the high heavens, they evoke citrus and fruit notes and add to the ‘juiceyness’ that beer nerds everywhere are after.

While the methods may vary, the end game is the same.  As someone somewhere once said:

“There is more than one way to skin a cat.”

With that in mind, I could not pass up the opportunity to get my hands on some Hop Hash when I saw it available at Yakima Valley Hops.

Hop Hash is a very pungent hop powder that is collected after the pelletization process.  Packed full of lupulin glands, hop hash is very high in both alpha acids and oil; without the vegetal mass which can impart grassy or earthy flavors. A hop ‘kief’ of sorts.

From the limited information I could find, some have said to use it in place of pellet/leaf hop at any stage of the brewing process. Others have used it to ‘dry-hash’ as you would normally dry hop. Some have even opted on making an alcohol extraction to increase efficiency.

 


If only Smell-O-Vision was still a thing

When I received my 4 oz of Hop Hash, I immediately opened the package and was savagely punched in the face by the most intense hop aroma I have ever experienced in my life. To say it is potent is an understatement. Looking forward to seeing what it could do, I immediately went to the fridge and produced a local pale ale.

Eager to see what would happen, I began by dropping some hop hash (approx .25g) into a pour of the pale ale. The aromatics immediately changed. As if my face was in a bag full of pellets, the aroma was all citrus and fruit and much more pronounced.

After about 30 minutes the flavor had not changed much; something that I would attribute to the low alcohol content being unable to permeate the lupulin glands in order to get to that delicious hop oil we are after.

After about an hour and a half, it was evident that the hop hash was starting to impart additional flavors to the beer. Ultimately, it did improve the hop characteristic of the beer but didn’t completely ‘wow’ me. The clarity of the beer was also not affected at all. It was time to take a different approach.

 


Time to kick it up a notch

For this experiment I would need a few things. Primarily something with a high enough alcohol content to quickly breakdown and permeate the lupulin gland walls and make way to the resinous oil. This required a trip to my local liquor store to purchase something I remember having promised my ’21 year-old’ self never to buy again. 190 proof grain alcohol, Everclear. Surely strong enough to carry us to the hop-oil-filled land.

Our end game here is to use the Everclear to perform an extraction of as much of the glorious hop oil as we can. The hope is that the hop hash will ‘melt’ into solution and give us a liquid extract that can be added in addition to, or in place of pellet or hop hash additions.

Rather than risk ruining an entire or partial batch of homebrew, let’s try to get the ratios down for a single beer, and scale up from there.

We’re going to need a few things:

  • Hop Hash
  • Grain Alcohol – Everclear
  • Scale
  • Eye Dropper
  • 1 oz shot glass
  • mixing glasses
  • Knife or mixing tool

 


 

First extraction – 1g of Hop Hash

 

For this first trial I will be using the ratio of 1g of Hop Hash for 1oz of Everclear.

In another glass, I will be using 1g of Hop Hash for 1.5oz of Everclear.

It is important to really chop up and breakdown the clumped up hop hash as much as possible. You want to create the maximum amount of surface area for the extraction.

 

 

Once the hop hash was pulverized, I put 1g of it in each of the 2 mixing glasses. In one glass went 1oz of Everclear and 1.5oz of Everclear in the second glass. Be sure to stir well and often.

After about one hour this is what we were looking like:

 

 

As the alcohol does its thing, you will see the oil leaving a slick haze on the glass.

This is the delicious nectar of the hop gods that we want to put in our beer.

 

 

After about 1.5 hours, this is what our slurry was looking like (1.5 oz left | 1oz right):

 

After about 3 hours our slurry (1oz) was much darker and full of hop oil.

This would be our extraction to play around with.

 

 

The least amount of Everclear that we can put in the beer the better.

Needing it most for the extraction itself and to act as a vehicle for the hop oil.

 


Now the fun part

With our 3 hour extraction of 1g Hop Hash to 1oz Everclear ready, it was time to dose a beer and see what happens.

Beer #1 – Fresh Hop IPA

Our first test subject is a christmas time seasonal, fresh hop IPA with great clarity. An otherwise great beer on it’s own.

 

Using our 1ml medicine dropper, 5ml of extract were added to the beer:

 

 

The beer was immediately transformed from one with superb clarity to a turbid wonder.

The aromatics were much brighter, with more fruit and citrus notes present. Much more aroma akin to smelling a bag of hop pellets.

The taste was an absolute hop assault of melon, citrus zest, and fruit. More juicy with a nice dryness to accompany the hop bite/sting. The ratio will definitely need to be worked on.

The mouthfeel was familiar to what you would expect from a NEIPA.

Overall the ratio may need to be adjusted, but we are definitely getting somewhere. The results were night and day compared to what the beer started as.

Now for those playing devil’s advocate, we did start with an already great beer, what about a not so great beer?

Beer #2 – Macro pale lager someone left in my fridge on Thanksgiving

This time we started with a mass-produced pale lager typically associated with summertime and often served with citrus fruit.

The picture speaks for itself in terms of clarity. Taste is thin with not much going on.

Started off with 5ml of the hop hash extract, but ended up ramping it up to 7ml of hop hash extract:

The result is a night and day difference.

Clarity was no longer existent. Hard to believe that the orange juice looking beer started crystal clear.

Aroma is very big on fruits and citrus, but much less in your face than Beer #1. An overall massive improvement.

Taste is intense, with an onslaught of hop flavors of fruits and citrus. Dry and overall a massive improvement.

Mouthfeel is still thin but has that familiar NEIPA mouthfeel.

It turned an otherwise mediocre beer into something pretty damn drinkable!


Final Thoughts

While the ratio definitely needs to be tweaked, I am pleased with the results of what can be done with hop hash. Both beers were transformed into absolute hop bombs.

I plan on using some extract in my next homebrew batch; 2 gallons of which will be dosed with Hop Hash extract to see what happens.

More tests to come…

Happy new year all!