Hop Tea Additions

For this blog post, I’ve been experimenting with one dry hopping technique in particular – Hop Tea, the method of infusing hops in hot water before mixing with the beer before bottling.
For this experiment, I’ve replaced the usual dry hop technique with 3 ‘hop tea’ variations to find out how different hop tea techniques will capture different levels or types of aromas and flavours as dry hopping.

I’m using the Port 66 US IPA kit for this experiment, split into 4 fermenters. In addition to the 3 methods described below, I also dry hopped one beer to use as a control.

Hop Tea Techniques

Please note the volume of water used in all techniques was 100ml – this is scaled down as I’ve split the kit into 4 demijohns. For a full 23L kit, use all of the hops and 500ml of water.

1. Filtered Tea

For this technique, I boiled the water, added it to a beaker and let it cool to 75°C* before mixing in the hops. This is left covered to infuse for 20-30 minutes. I then poured the tea through filter paper into a second vessel. The tea smells great – very strong floral and citrus-y aromas hit my nose when pouring it through the filter. I added the filtered tea into the first fermenter, mixed and proceeded to bottle.

Filtered Tea2. Steeped Tea

This tea is made by putting the hops in a grain bag, and steeping them for 20-30 mins in 100ml water at 75°C. The advantage of this method is there no filtering is required – you just need to drain the bag and the tea is ready. The potential downside is whether the hop oils infuse as well as they do in the first method as they are contained within the bag.

Steeped Tea Day 7

3. French Press

This is similar to the Filtered Tea method, except you use the French press as an infuser and a filter. Using the press is quite convenient as it’s all done in one vessel, the only downside is it’s a bit of a pain to clean afterwards. Boiling water is poured into the press and the temperature is monitored. When it’s at 75°C, I added the hops and mixed them into the water. After 20-30 mins I then pressed down the filter and poured the tea into the beer before bottling.

French Press

*I don’t want to extract any bitterness, so the maximum temperature of the water used will be 75°C. In theory, this is warm enough to extract the hop flavours and aromas, but not hot enough to add bitterness.

The Results

The tasting session exposed only subtle differences between the 3 techniques, with the French Press beer proving most potent in terms of hop flavour and aroma of the 3x techniques. However all 3 were notably less potent (est. 40-50%) than the control using the kits recommended dry hopping technique – “add to surface of the beer 3 days before end of fermentation & do not stir”.

My hunch is that the infusion time was too short, so as a follow-up I’m thinking of doing the following variations:

  • Same 20-30 minute timeframe, but adding this to the beer 3 days before the end of fermentation
  • 3 day infusion in the French press, adding it to the beer just before bottling

If you’ve had any experience or have any advice on this subject, or if you’re planning on trying it, let me know in the comments below and I will use it to shape the follow-up blog I do for this.

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