Hashing It Out: A New Hop Supercharger for Homebrewers

BYOB by | Mar 2017 | Issue #122
Illustration by Ellen Crenshaw

No matter how much we hear about the inevitable backlash against all things hoppy, we can’t stop finding new ways to weaponize our beers. After throwing hops into the sparge water, the mash water, the whirlpool, the keg, the serving line, the pint glass, and breaking out extracts—what else is there left to do? Smoke them?

It turns out that hop processing isn’t a zero waste game. So brewers have started spinning what was so much dross of the pelletizing business into extra hoppy gold.

To make hop pellets, a processor takes dried whole cone hops and pulverizes them in a liquid nitrogen-cooled hammer mill. The mill busts the cones into tiny fragments, which are then chopped and pressed into our beloved T-90 hop pellet. The liquid nitrogen keeps the whole process chilly to avoid vaporizing precious aromatics.

All that cold, sticky hop material creates a concentrated residue that, until a few years ago, was discarded. Now, in a prime example of adaptive reuse, the super-concentrated powder is sold as “hop hash.” This powder has more potent hop character with less of the green matter that muddies up the impact of your beer.

While some people talk about using it as a bittering component, I’ve only used it as a late kettle or whirlpool hop supercharger. Warning: This stuff packs one hell of a wallop and it’s easy to go overboard. Start with 0.5–1.0 ounce for a 5-gallon batch before getting wacky with it.

Hash It Out Pale Ale
For 5.5 gallons at 1.056 OG | 50 IBU | 9.5 SRM | 5.7% ABV

9.5 lbs Domestic two-row malt
2.0 lbs Munich malt
1.0 lbs Crystal 60L

60 minute rest at 152°–154°F.

0.5 oz Warrior pellets | 15% AA | 60 minutes
1.0 oz Idaho 7 hash | 26% AA | 20 minute whirlpool

Safale US-05, Wyeast 1056, or White Labs WLP001 California Ale

If you feel you need more weaponization, add up to an ounce of hash as a dry hop for 7 days. I highly recommend both cold crashing and gelatin to clarify.