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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wet Hop Analysis

You know how I spent a great deal of time investigating the nature of the wet hop earlier this year, surmising that some of the constituents of the hop cone affect flavor in out-sized proportion when added wet to the boil? Well, based on two years of data collection and 15 beers with known hop varieties, I have discovered ... nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. I lined up every hop used in these beers (9 of them) and looked to see which ones with the "decomposition note" had various constituent elements. I had really hopped to see a culprit--cohumulone or one of the oils, probably. But no. It's totally random.

Five hops produced no decomp note--Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Crystal, and Nugget. The preponderance of the initial letter is about as close to a correlation as I could find among these. My new theory--it's the way the hops are used in brewing, not the hop itself, that produces the decomp note. Or something.

Anyway, here's my very scientific research on the subject:

Hop Elements
Get your own at Scribd or explore others: Reference

See also:
Anatomy of the Humulus Lupulus, Chemistry of the Wet Hop


  1. sort of OT: we used these hops that looked like compressed pellets in the beer we made last weekend...what's the big difference?

  2. From Hopunion -

    There are a number of ways to use hops in the brewing process. Whole hops are the natural hop cones that have been dried and baled. It can be argued that this form is the most inconsistent, bulky, poorest storage, and inefficient way to brew of all product forms. Still a number of the world's brewers use the whole hop claiming they prefer the all natural product.

    Hop pellets are basically whole hops that have been ground through a hammer mill and then pressed together through a pellet die. The ground hops are kept together as a compressed pellet by the hops natural resins. No additives have been put into a standard type 90 pellet. This product is then put into a vacuum foil package. The major advantages are less storage space, better consistency, and enhanced utilization. The disadvantage is that the crushing of the cones changes the behavior of the hops to some extent that can result in different beer flavor.

  3. And to bring it back more on-topic, all wet hop beers are, obviously, made with whole hops. They pull them off the vines, run them back to the brewery, and dump them into the beer. I know some breweries actually start mashing while the hops are en route to ensure extra freshness.

  4. doesn't it make sense that the decomposition note would result from decomposition, i.e. a result of the handling and not the hop variety?

    also, be wary that not all fresh-hop beers are 100% all wet; probably about half of the '08 selections in Oregon used dried hops too.

  5. What analytical method did you use to generate your data?