“There’s no such thing as too many hops!” We all know some hop-head who lives by these words. But, truth be told, as much as we love those super-hoppy, over-the-top delicious double IPAs, there’s always the risk of going too far. If you’ve ever crossed that line, you know what I’m talking about.
Ever wonder how brewers get all that fruity, citrusy, dank, resinous goodness without suffering from the green, grassy, vegetal character that comes from ridiculous amounts of hops? Brewers use HopShots which are CO2 extracted hop resin. In other words, a refined concentration of hop oils without all the extra hop material in the pellets.
Because the oils are highly concentrated in HopShots, brewers can use much smaller doses than they would using traditional hops. This offers two great advantages when reaching target bittering units: First, it reduces the amount of hop material in the boil, which risks giving the beer a vegetal character. Secondly, brewers do not lose as much volume to hop trub and/or leaf hops sucking up valuable wort volume.
Both of these effects allow brewers to really load up on late hop additions that add all those great hop flavors and aromas. Our Plinian Legacy Double IPA and Off the Topper are perfect examples of when HopShots just make sense. Both use a massive amount of late-addition hops to deliver in-your-face aroma and flavor backed by clean bitterness. We picked up this technique from professional brewers that have been using hop extracts for years, while trying to perfect double IPAs.
It’s pretty easy to start working HopShots into your Brew Day, as they are used the same way as pellet or leaf hops. HopShots do need to be boiled to isomerize the oils, a.k.a to get the bitterness. One milliliter of HopShots is approximately 10 IBUs in 5 gallons of 1.050 wort. Here are more detailed instructions on how to calculate IBUs with HopShots.
They are typically added at the start of the boil to get the bitterness units the recipe calls for. Do not worry about the oil drops that hang out on the surface at the start of the boil; they will work into the boil in a minute or two – kind of like the olive oil you might add to your pasta water. Do make sure you achieve a vigorous boil, otherwise you could end up with some oil globs still in the kettle after the boil. This can be a big pain to clean off the kettle if not taken care of right away, like all cleaning in brewing.
Don’t forget, HopShots aren’t only for IPAs, Double IPAs and those crazy Triple IPAs. They offer a great way to get bitterness in any beer while decreasing volume loss to hop trub. Do you have a favorite barleywine or imperial stout? Try substituting HopShots in for the bitterness charge. It is simple, clean, and effective.
The only thing I would recommend not trying with HopShot is getting it into your eye. As someone (who will remain nameless) found out here…it burns. He compared it to pepper spray. How he knew what pepper spray felt like is a story for another day.