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One thing we've learned about brewing is that beer doesn't last forever. All kinds of things can go wrong that lead to the taste of home brewed beer degrading over time. One natural cause of flavor degradation is the natural breakdown of hop compounds. Even under ideal storage circumstances, hoppy beers tend to fade - especially beers that have had a lot of late boil or dry hop additions.
Part I: Hopping With A Tea Ball
In this experiment we took a good but slightly aged "juicy" summer session beer and added some Ekuanot Hops (formerly called "Equinox" hops). The procedure was simple. We added a simple hop pellet to a tea ball and let it steep in a pint of beer for a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, this short steep was highly effective in transferring hop flavor and aroma to the beer.
What we liked about direct with a tea ball:
- It increased the hop profile of the beer and allowed us to "freshen up" a beer that had slightly faded with age.
- The resulting beer tasted great.
- It allowed us to experience the unique characteristics of a single hop.
What we didn't like :
- The beer had a deep and long lasting spicy after taste that lasted long after the beer was drank. It wasn't actually noticeable while drinking the beer -only after the entire pint was gone. Weird!
Direct Hopping Part II - New Hops
We had a few folks tell us that they tried the same experiment as us and didn't experience any change in the beer. We experimented again by adding 14.5% alpha acid Columbus hops to Bud Light. It worked again for us, but our theory is that hops with higher alpha acid content work better. Here's the video:
Direct Hopping Part III: Making Hop Tea with Whole Cone Hops
We've seen a few other people make tea by adding hot water to hops and then filtering it with a french press. Since we had success with pellet hops and a tea ball, we figured we'd give this a shot too. It worked, but strangely, there was almost no bitterness to speak of. The hops we used for this experiment had a lower alpha acid content (about 10%). Here's the video: