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Hop Series Volume 1:  What is a Cryohop??

Hop Series Volume 1: What is a Cryohop??

There’s enough information out there about hops that we could literally fill several books, and luckily many extraordinary brewers and scientist already have!  That being said, there’s still plenty to talk about, new information and science, and those of us who sometimes just want to read about science in fairly plain English.  To that effect, Hop Series. Our goal with this is to compartmentalize individual concepts, science and thoughts about hops in a (more or less) straightforward manner. It won’t be all we talk about on BrewCranium, but an ongoing series of posts that shed some light on hop science, process, varieties, and fun.  Without further ado, Volume 1: What is a Cryohop?

There is a lot of buzz about Cryohops.  This amazing hop product that hit the market circa 2017.  They have little to no vegetative mass (so hop plant parts that don’t have acids and terpenes), they are super concentrated, and they can give your beer a super hop wallop that sticks around in the finished product longer than traditional pellets.  All of that is amazing, and makes me want to use them in every single IPA, but what are they REALLY? This week, we’ll explore how they’re made, what they are, how they measure up to hops processed in the more traditional way, and some of the best ways to use them.

Freezing Hops

Frozen:  How They’re Made (Probably)

So, with a name like Cryohops, and LupuLN2, we’ve got some pretty reasonable assumptions about the process of making these.  Cryo means cold, and LN2 is definitely a reference to liquid nitrogen. Although the official process for making Cryohops is proprietary and patent pending, as well it should be, there are some other processes that utilize freezing and sieving whole cone hops into a concentrated powder, so maybe expanding on those can give us all a better idea of what we have in Cryohops, and how to best utilize it.

T-90 Pellet Hops

We’ve all heard of T-90 pellets, as these are what 90% of us use in every one of our brews, but have you heard of a T-45 pellet?  I’ve spoken to pro brewers that have, and to suppliers that have them, but it’s not something that most of typically get to see and use.  These are created by a process of using liquid nitrogen to super cool whole hops to -22° to -31° F, then grinding them and separating out the vegetal matter to make a more concentrated pellet.

If you think about it, this is absolutely brilliant.  Get rid of the chaff, everything that soaks up wort and gives plant flavors, and leave behind a concentrated, lupulin-humulone rich powder full of β myrcene and β caryophyllene and everything else we want to give us flavor!  The kicker to this is that this method was developed in the 1970’s!  Mind. Blown.

While, as I said, the process for making Cryohops is still super secret squirrel and patent pending, it’s not a huge leap to assume that whatever mad genius decided to do this probably innovated on the the concept and process of T-45 pellets.

Close Up of Citra CryoHops

What’s the Difference?

So now that we have a better idea of what we’re working with, what does it mean?  Ok, yeah, I get it that there’s less organic compounds from plant matter, and they’re supposedly more concentrated, but how do they really measure up as dry hops or boil hops?  This is really the cool part!

So if you look at the alpha acid content in these, they are off the charts, which definitely proves concentration.  Current crop year of Mosaic Cryohops have an AA measurement of 24.1%!!  If the alpha acids are concentrated, then it’s an easy deduction that the terpene profiles are super concentrated as well, which means that the flavors are off the charts.  So much so, in fact, that the Yakima Chief recommends using half as much as T-90 pellets by weight to get the same dosage. Also, in theory, less inert plant matter means less wort absorption, and higher utilization.

Dry Hops

So What Am I Supposed To Do With Them?

It seems a bit of a waste to bitter with these, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work.  The AA’s are there, and the science is sound, so if you want to, go nuts! For me, the theory is the same as bittering with Citra, Mosaic, or Nelson Sauvin.  These varieties are considered high alpha, but they are so loaded down with flavor and so expensive, that why use them for bittering when you can add them as late boil, whirlpool and hop additions and get the most bang for your buck?

In my experience, whirlpool hop additions in the 160° to 180° F range are absolutely insane, and give you such an amazing flavor and aroma profile, that why wouldn’t you introduce Cryohops here?  It seems like they were made specifically just for this… Ok, that’s exactly why they were made.

These were also made for dry hopping, and they definitely do not disappoint in that regard, either.  The coolest part is that because of the lack of plant matter, if you want to double dry hop in the keg and just leave them in there, that’s fair game!  You won’t have to worry about the grassy off flavors attributed to dry hopping for too long, and you can have a fresh IPA as long as it lasts! For me, this is the real boon to this whole process. 

Incarnations of IPA

You Can Brew Anything, Just As Long As It’s An IPA

The only real downside to Cryohops so far is the limited varieties available.  The varieties that you can get are some of the best, but still limited. Regularly available are:  Cascade, Citra, Columbus, Ekuanot, Loral, Mosaic, and Simcoe.  We’ve seen some others floating around, like the Palisade that they handed out at NHC, but these varieties are the ones that you can get just about any time, which means these are what craft beer brewers are using when they use Cryohops.

This covers just about every type of IPA that you would want to make, and with Loral thrown in the mix, you can even add a little noble hop character to those more traditional beer styles when you brew them, even though it seems Loral is in shorter supply. 

The moral of the story is this:  Use Magnum, Bravo, Horizon or Co2 Hop Extract for your bitter balance, and add copious amounts of Cryohops at both the whirlpool and as dry hops on top of your favorite, simple IPA or American Pale Ale recipe, and don’t forget to dry hop in the keg!  Remember that the dosage rate is about half of normal T-90 pellets, so either follow that or go absolutely nuts and go 1:1 on your your favorite homebrew recipe, just to see what happens!

Kegs Waiting to Be Filled With IPA

Thank you all for reading!  Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and definitely don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel, BrewChatter TV!  We welcome all comments and questions, so if you have experience using Cryohops, let us know in the comments below!  WE love to hear what everybody is making!
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R.J. Hiller - January 11, 2019

Hi Emma! Thanks for reading! We definitely have them! They have their own category under Brewing Ingredients > Hops > Cryohops. We prevent clogs by using a hop bag when keg-hopping. It seems to work super well, and it’s easy to do. Some kegs have a little hook on the underside of the lid, but we just use super low test fishing line and thread it up through the lid gasket to keep the bag about 4" off of the bottom of the keg so it doesn’t envelop the dip tube. I hope that helps! Cheers!

Emma - January 11, 2019

Thanks for this post! I’ve been very interested in using cryohops in my homebrew, do you guys have them? Also, if there’s any dense matter in my keg it WILL clog—what’s your secret to preventing clogs when hopping in the keg?

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