Dry-Hopping is virtually synonymous with certain beer styles, such as American IPAs. The process is simple in its basic form — add hops, leaf or pellet, to your beer after fermentation is complete. The idea is to impart your choice of extra hop aroma, flavour and/or bitterness to your beer. The process works so well because aroma and flavour compounds are saved from being lost in the kettle during boil or scrubbed away by CO2 bubbles escaping from your fermenter. In addition to these plusses, it enables a brewer to add more bitterness to a batch of beer after the brew is complete.
Often, brewers will add the hops straight into their beer, while others will use a hop sock or stainless steel tea balls. There is much debate on topics such as which hops work best, and how long the hops should be left in for. We’ve dry-hopped, and enjoyed the contribution it gave to our IPA, but we also wanted to play with another concept — French Press Hop Tea Infusion.
With French Press Hop Tea Infusion, the idea is as follows. Follow these three easy steps.
1) To add aroma – Bring a small amount of wort to a boil to sanitize. Let cool. Add wort and desired amount of hops to french press. Let sit for desired amount of time (typically 15-30 minutes). Press down. Add to fermenter.
2) To add flavour – Bring a small amount of wort to a boil to sanitize. Let cool to ~170ºF. Add wort and desired amount of hops to french press. Let sit for desired amount of time (typically 15-30 minutes). Press down. Add to fermenter.
3) To add bitterness – Bring a small amount of wort to a boil, add hops, continue boiling for 45 -60 minutes. Add boiling wort and desired hops to french press. Press down. Add to fermenter.
NOTE: Using a small amount of water in place of wort works as well. It’s up to you.
We tried this experiment with an IPA we had brewed to showcase Zythos hops (a proprietary hop blend developed by Hop Union — supposedly containing Simcoe, Citra, Palisade, and Amarillo). After using our French Press to hop-infuse this IPA, the difference was night and day. We’ve read, and agree, that you need less hops when using a French Press than you would if you were to dry-hop in the traditional way.
A major benefit to using a French Press to hop-infuse your beer is that you can pretty much add it to the beer instantly, rather than waiting days or weeks to dry-hop traditionally. With this technique, you can really explore hops…simply take a small amount of different hops, use them separately with the French Press, and add your hop liquor to a sample of beer. Instant results!
We are, admittedly, new to French Press Hop Tea Infusion, but currently feel that it’s a fantastic way to experiment and improve beers that need that extra aroma/flavour/bitterness kick!