Beer has been around for centuries, so it’s awfully hard to imagine anything truly innovative in the world of home brewing these days. However, that doesn’t stop ardent home brewers from trying to find the latest and greatest technique in making beer! We are, after all, a crafty bunch.
One of the latest ideas to turn up in brewing recipes is steeped hops. You may be wondering if steeped hops really make a difference, or is it just a fad. We’re happy to help you sort it out!
What are Steeped Hops?
The idea of steeping dried leaves in water is nothing new. It’s how we have been making the world’s most widely consumed beverage, tea, since… forever ago. The practice of steeping allows you to control how much or how little of a flavour to add to another liquid. When it comes to brewing, the application changes a little from the traditional definition of steeping.
If you have been brewing at home for a while, you have probably heard the terms hop-back, whirlpool hops, dry hopping, and now steeped hops. These are all terms used to describe late hop additions. In the case of steeped hops, it means adding them to wort while it is still hot (but not boiling!) to maximize the extraction of essential oils from the hops.
Steeped Hops or Dry Hopping?
Dry hopping didn’t just grow in popularity because of the flavour changes it affects. The essential oils in hops – Caryophyllene, Farnesene, Humulene and Myrcene – are delicate and sensitive to dramatic temperature changes. That means if you throw them into to a too hot brew, they will break down too quickly and could lead to unexpected changes in the taste of your beer.
Steeped hops certainly aren’t a fad, but their use is also not for the novice brewer. Before moving on to complex beer recipes, take the time to get comfortable with your craft. Get familiar with your set-up at home, make fine tweaks, and brew a couple of batches to get the hang of it.
No matter what method of adding hops you choose, the results will be improved by the use of fresh ingredients. Order a batch of locally-grown hops today for your next home-brewed creation. You won’t believe the difference it makes!