Hops: Our Philosophies


Whole vs. Pellets

There has been much debate over the merits of whole vs. pelletized hops. We think that both have their merits, and it should be your choice as to which style you like.  We carry both whole and pelletized hops, subject to availability (sometimes we can only get one or the other and for a few slow-moving varieties, we just carry pellets).  We use barrier packaging and cold storage.  The biggest issue is how the two types differ in their physical characteristics throughout the brewing process. Whole hops tend to float, while hop pellet particles tend to sink. Whole hops can be easily strained from the boil, pellet particles cannot. For additions with less boil time, pellets will be more efficient (because the lupulin glands in the pellets - where the oils and alpha acids come from - have been burst). This is also a factor in dry hopping. Finally, a lot of brewers prefer the "aesthetics" of whole hops. Like we said, we try and carry both. The decision is up to you.

Why We Don't List Actual Alpha Acid.

The main reason is that the alpha acid percentage of the hops can vary widely from lot to lot. But rest assured that the actual hops you receive will be rated with the actual alpha acid for that lot. If you need to know the exact numbers before you order, just ask right before you order.

Storing Your Hops

We store all our hops at 25 degrees F to insure freshness. The hops are sealed in our SuperBarrier(tm) bags. These bags not only keep air and moisture out. Once you receive your hops, you should put them in your freezer. If there's no room in your freezer, your refrigerator is better than nothing. Once you break the seal on the bag, you'll need a way to keep the remainder of the hops as fresh as possible. You shouldn't use standard poly or zip-lock bags. They're worthless at preserving your hop's freshness. The best method is to invest in a "home quality" vacuum or heat sealer and simply re-seal our bag (tip: cut open our bag from the bottom. Cut off a corner to make an opening just big enought to remove the hops. This leaves plenty of material for re-sealing the bag).  Alternatively, you can transfer the hops to an airtight container such as a mason jar. If you have a CO2 tank, flush the jar with CO2 before adding the hops and again just before screwing on the lid. Practice with the CO2 first. It's easy to blast your hops all over the place. And always use a regulator, never the straight CO2 from the tank! (If you have nitrogen available, this is preferable to CO2.)

The bottom line is that cold storage is the most important thing you can do to keep your hops fresh. If you can't do anything else, get them in the freezer in an airtight container such as a mason jar and they'll keep for many months.