Size of your hops

Hops are expensive, big brassy American ones more so, but sod it! Last weekend I greatfully recieved a box of funky hops to play with, along with some purloined Perle. Then there were some homegrown fuggles and other varieties – dried in the airy loft space. Add some other American hops that journied back from California with me.

Seemingly I had a wealth of hops in front of me, the trouble is that they go stale – there isn’t much use for old or stale hops.

Recently Steve and I made a batch of a 10%. Double IPA – on the fifty litre kit – besides mash issues – we used about £60 in hops; varities like northern brewer, simcoe, Amarillo, centenial, and chinook, and cascade!! Hop heads favourites!! A fun and very hedonistic experiment.

Recent batches have been restrained on the hop front – a nice 6% brew for thanksgiving at steve’s – pale malt, 55l crystal, and chocolate malt, hopped with cascade, centenial, and northern brewer.

Then came pop othe hops – only 4.2% -but loads of hops all through. Cleaning out the hops from the freezer was great fun. Then dry hopping with the perle, typically a bittering hop, but what the hell! It’s only 50l.

HOP came out moderately clear – I think the sheer volume of hops hazes a shade, but it’s soporific!? But a great experiment all the same.

I know of one brewery that has a small pilot plant – and I hear that they’re lining up to brew some experimental batches and offer them in their tap room.. Why is it so far away?? I wonder how many others have a half barrel brewery along side their master kit?

When you read books like brewing up a business by Sam calagione – small batch brewing featured and was a foundation of the sucess of his business. We’re also seeing a number of commercial homebrewers come about – even though I hate that name – perhaps nano-brewers might be a better word.

I believe that experimentation with new hops, continental malts, and brewing techinques (and embrasing the accidental) – is a fundamental driver of brewing success! Size isn’t everything?


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