Testing Taste of Hops

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I've been reading for a bit and really enjoy this group.  I've been
homebrewing for about a year now and have made some really good beer
and I've been interested in modifying some of the batches I've made.

I was wondering if any has a way to "taste" hops for different
properties or specific tastes or aromas.  I've heard of people tasting
the hops themselves but mostly whole hops, I assume, not the pellets.
It is possible to make an herb "tea" of the herbs or would that give
you any idea of what favour it has in the beer.  I know a number of
books have descriptions of "spicy", "fruity" or something general but
that doesn't really give me what I'm looking for.  Any ideas or
experience on those lines?  

Also, is there a good procedure to use, other than just scaling down a
standard  5 gallon recipe, to make smaller batches of say a gallon or
less each?  

So far I've only done extract brewing with steeped grains and have
done only ales as that is the only temperature range I can maintain at
this point.  

Thanks for any input.  

PopeCoyote

Re: Testing Taste of Hops


I've made tea with hops before just to try it (not bad) but I've only
done it with one variety, so I'm not certian how much difference you'd
see between them - I'm guessing it would be a pretty good way of
getting an idea of each varieties character.

As for doing small batches - you may want to consider just doing a 5
gallon batch and then split them at some point into 5 1gal batches. It
would give you the option to try different hops in each one. But with
extract brewing, you should have no problem scaling down a recipe from
5 to 1 gallon by dividing everything by 5. They also sell 2.5 or 3
gallon carboys. I've had wort that I wasn't able to immediately use so
I brought it to a boil for 15 minutes, shut off the heat, covered well,
and left it on the back porch in the winter to cool. Then when I wanted
to use it I just brought it back to a boil and proceeded as normal.  I
would guess you could leave it at refridgerator temperatures for almost
a week before there was a problem due to souring (which wouldn't be a
fatal problem anyway, as a little sourness would be good in a wheat
beer, for instance; and boiling again would prevent further infection).


If you are interested in all grain, I would recommend doing batch
sparges at first. They are easy and pretty effective, and the square
coolers are cheap if not something you already own. It will add a
couple hours to your process but is fun to do. I like to sometimes
break it up by mashing late at night and then leaving it until I wake
up in the morning (I get up early on Saturday/Sunday). After draining
and a single sparge (which is quick with batch sparging) you just go on
to the regualr process that you use with extract brewing.

--Jeff


Re: Testing Taste of Hops


Hi
I am interested in your experiences with breaking up your brew day, brewing
one day, keeping the wort over night and boiling the next.

Have you had any problems at all with this method? Where do you keep your
wort? and do you cool the wort rapidly before storing?
Many thanks in advance.

Greg

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Re: Testing Taste of Hops


Greg

Initially it happened that a couple of times when I started brewing, it
was so late that I couldn't possibly finish. So I would sparge into my
kettle as usual, bring it to a boil, and then shut it off. It was
winter, so I just put a clamp on the lid to keep out the animals and
left it outside (one time it was at freezing, one time it was maybe
mid-30s out). Neither time did it freeze. The next morning I just
brought it to a boil and proceeded as usual. My guess is that if you
left it too long, you might get some sourness, but I had none, and I
don't think you'd get any until a minimum of 24 hours of sitting.
Bringing it back to a boil afterwards kills off anything bad.

The other method I use to split it up is to leave the mash sit over
night. I would not do this unless you had a well insulated tun that
will hold the temp. I would also not do this for longer than 8 hours.
The problems you would see from doing this too long is (again) souring,
and also a stuck run off. My understanding is that if you let the mash
cool below 140?F then it'll really stick. The couple of times I did an
overnight mash, there were no problems with sticking, but I got back to
it as soon as I woke up. Just bring the temp back up to 170F for mash
out and sparge it (or batch sparge or whatever).

Now, I did take this too far 2 batches ago - I did a 24 hour mash. I
didn't expect it to work, but I got derailed and couldn't get back to
it in time. It soured and stuck really bad. Of course, it was 60% wheat
malt, but it ran off fine before cooling for that long and sitting that
long.

--Jeff


Re: Testing Taste of Hops


Hi Jeff
Many thanks for the post
I guess the crucial thing is to keep the wort as cool as possible and not
leave the wort too for long.
Mashing and sparging in the evening, then boiling early in the morning.

Greg




Re: Testing Taste of Hops



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Thanks for your ideas, Jeff.  I may try to break the batches up as you
mentioned and do some experimentation.  I'll probably stick to extract
with steeped grains for now but I'm interested in all grain later.  

What I'm trying to do is find a hop profile I really like.  One of my
favourite beers was Pete's Wicked Ale early in its distribution.  I
like a brown or nut brown ale and what set Pete's apart was the hop
profile in it.  Spicy and herbal with nice bit of bitter but not
enough to override the malt.  What is put out as Pete's now isn't that
close to what I remember.  I am not so much trying to copy the old
Pete's as trying to make sort of my idea brown ale with that original
hop profile as a starter.  The Pete's site says that Cascade and
Northern Brewer hops are used, but I don't know if that was what the
original was.  

Thanks for your help.  I appreciate any input.  

PopeCoyote

Re: Testing Taste of Hops


PopeCoyote

I have no idea what Pete's would have used. It would probably be safe
to assume that today's recipe is less expensive to brew than the
earlier recipe.

Your tests with hop teas should work well to give you ideas about hop
flavor and aroma, but won't tell you how much to put in and when;
especially since the bitterness comes mostly from prolonged boiling and
will vary depending on the gravity of the brew (or in the case of
tea/water 1.000sg). I'm guessing it'll be a great way to better
understand the difference between hops, but you are going to have a lot
of extra hops laying around as a result. Maybe you could make a garbage
can beer afterwards and hop the heck out of it :)

--Jeff


Re: Testing Taste of Hops



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Jeff,

Thanks for your thoughts.  I appreciate them!  I've been doing some
more research and have some ideas.  I'm not sure about the tea idea
but I might try it to get an idea if a hop tea might be good for an
alternative to dry hopping.  For the price of a movie and some popcorn
I can get an ounce of a dozen different hops so it won't be that
expensive an endeavour.  Regardless, my version will be hoppier than
Pete's.  I'm using bittering units to get an idea of what might work
in what proportion for bittering, aroma, etc.

I like the garbage can beer idea.  Another fave style is American IPA.
The hoppier the better.  ;)  

PopeCoyote

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