Saving Private Ryan

You saw the state of the beer fridge in my last post.  See that big hole in the middle?  That is how bad things are, I actually have an open tap.

In order to fill the gap I whipped up a little bitter with an American spin. I had some homegrown hops I received from a friend (Nugget and Cascade) and used them to target about 38 IBUs.  . Unfortunately, despite being somewhat conservative estimating the alpha acids in these hops, I am not sure they had any at all. When I tasted the beer it was OK (no off flavors) but it had very low bitterness and no hop flavor or aroma. It was really bland, and I decided I could not drink 3 gallons of this swill.

One approach to reconciling this problem would be to simply brew a second, hoppier batch of beer and just blend the two. This is a sound approach but I did not want to spend the time it would take to do that.  I have heard of people making “hop teas” and adding them to finished batches in order to modify the hop character. I decided to do a little hop steep using a half ounce of Centennial.

I started by placing the hops in a mortar and pestle and mashing them up a bit to maximize the surface area:


Next I took about 400 ml of beer from the tap and heated it in the microwave. I wanted to just reach a boil (but I think I removed it a little too early). I put the muddled hops into a french press and added the warm wort:


I was hoping it would be over 180° F, but once it was in the press it was under 150° F. Since I figured there was not too much isomerization going on, I only let it steep for about 10 minutes before opening the lid on the keg and dumping the liquid into it (after using the press to filter the solids. For good measure I added the other half ounce of Centennial into a large tea ball and dropped it in also:


After 24 hours I can already taste a significant difference in the beer.  It has enough hop flavor to make it a drinkable beer.  I would not enter it into any competitions, but I will happily drink it.

If I had it to do over again I think I would have added the muddled hops to the beer and made sure I reached a boil in the microwave.  I think this might have added a bit more bitterness (I mostly get hop flavor/aroma).

Homebrewing.  Live and learn!

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