Flavor testing home grown hops

John Eaton

South Jersey FC Member
I know there are popular ways to test hop pellets for flavor, a bland american pilsner and popping in a few pellets for a few days, but can that work for whole hops?

I tried that with Sol (good flavorless beer, but stupid twistoffs, doah!), and all I got was disappointment. I used a short copper water pipe, loaded 4 or 5 cones in it, then pushed them through inside the bottle and capped it. 4 days later, viola, dirt flavored beer. I wanted to 'cap' my losses in case they did not seal so I only tried 4, and all 4 were horrible. One sip and down the drain.

My worry is that my hops suck. I coddled them weekly for 4 weeks before finally deciding they were ready, in spite of minimal aroma. Picked, dried and vacuum sealed, setting aside 4 or 5 of several for this test, which I bottled the same night, so they were only 2 -3 days off the plants. One thing I did notice is that I had piles of lupin dust fall though the screens onto my counter as I weighed them out and vacuum sealed them. Probably 1/4 tsp from 8-9 ozs of dry hops once I figured out how to scoop it up without smearing it on everything. The last short oz package got the lupin dust added.

I used a 12oz bottle to cram them into the vacuum bags, which worked very well, and when I was done I had to recycle the bottle as it was totally gummed with lupins, and short of using solvent, it was not coming clean. Clearly they are loaded with the magic dust.

Anyone have other ideas for checking whole hops aroma, short of a brew?
 

Mike Morley

Vice President
I put them in a tea infuser and give them a good swirl in a appropriate beer. It works..

I think for my home grown homes I'm going to do a wet hop with the cascade and age the tettnanger hops for sours. Other than that I haven't like the beers I made with them. Not sure why they smelled good, but it seemed I had to add a ton to get flavor and aroma, and when I did I started getting off flavors.
 

John Eaton

South Jersey FC Member
Hmm, maybe I should have read the comments on that post.

C. Pellets. Definitely don't try this with leaf hops.

No explanation as to why, but one key point he makes is nucleation and foaming from the pellets. Maybe whole are worse? Although I had no issues with foaming when I did this, I anticipated it on the first one and poured out a few ounces. A single ounce was plenty.

I'm thinking about doing a pellet comparison. If it tastes like dirt, then I'm doing something wrong. Will also try the tea ball, but can't let that sit for days. Sounds like a good use for the mystery pellets I have since I'm not concerned about the specific taste in this try.
Maybe Sol was a bad choice? Not a bad beer, and better to waste a few cheap ones than a whole batch of mine!
 

John Eaton

South Jersey FC Member
Well, its not looking good for my hops. I broke out the tea ball and a corona light, and viola more dirt flavored beer. Of the 6 samples I set aside (not O2 safe, oops), only 2 had a vague hop aroma, and the rest smelled like dried leaves. I'm thinking my entire harvest is no good. I tried one of the vague aroma ones, with 4 cones in the ball, and nothing.
I checked them weekly for 6 weeks before finally deciding they were ready to pick, and at no point did the aroma jump out like it did last year. 4 are 3 yrs old, 3 @ 2yrs, and the rest were replaced mid season last year. 1 of the 2 yr old ones were amazing last year, even though they were first year, just not many of them.
I posted on HBT back when I was checking them, for feedback on why they might be bland, but got nothing of significance there. I'm thinking I need to work on nutrients. 6 of the 10 grew well over 14 feet, branched out big time, and looked good. But, zip on aroma, in spite of being loaded with lupin goodness.
Stupid plants.
 
Randall Jr. from Dogfish Head is probably your best option, and fairly cheap. You could probably achieve the same results with bar equipment, a strainer and a cup..
 

John Eaton

South Jersey FC Member
Blake Butler said:
[post]1575[/post] Randall Jr. from Dogfish Head is probably your best option, and fairly cheap. You could probably achieve the same results with bar equipment, a strainer and a cup..

Yeah, I've seen that, but it can't make my hops better. :(
 
John Eaton said:
[post]1576[/post]
Blake Butler said:
[post]1575[/post] Randall Jr. from Dogfish Head is probably your best option, and fairly cheap. You could probably achieve the same results with bar equipment, a strainer and a cup..

Yeah, I've seen that, but it can't make my hops better. :(
Nope, if your hops are bad, good beer won't help.

Are they first year crop?
 
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