Author Topic: Hop Storage Index  (Read 5744 times)

KernelCrush

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Hop Storage Index
« on: May 29, 2014, 12:02:29 PM »
From what I read, AA% is determined at harvest, then the hops are baled.  Then they go to a broker, who is said store cold.  I read that the broker advises the next middleman the AA% as they go out the door.  Then they go to a distributor, then to a homebrew store, then to the homebrewer.  I would guess every transit does not involve subzero storage or O2 barrier storage, especially the last few transports.  Wondering if anyone knows when the alpha acid % number stamped on the homebrew hop packages is determined and at what step of the journey are the hops  finally put into those hop-life-saving nitrogen-flushed mylar pouches?  How do we know the AA stated on the package is even close at this point?  Like yeast, hops should at least have a packaging date. 
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 06:17:01 AM by KernelCrush »

Offline brewfun

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Re: Hop Storage Index
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2014, 11:15:05 PM »
Wondering if anyone knows when the alpha acid % number stamped on the homebrew hop packages is determined and at what step of the journey are the hops
...
How do we know the AA stated on the package is even close at this point?

Stateside, Broker and Distributor are the same. Imported hops in any country are going through both export and import brokers.

Hop AA% is determined as it is boxed for the end user. In this case the end user means whoever is buying the box. The hops have a crop year and AA%, plus sometimes a CoHumulone number and total hop oil %.

The brokers tend to adjust hop AA% every few months, so the number at the retailer should be accurate if they update their labels. That means you can start your HSI based on when you purchased the hops and how you store them.

As for "how do you know if it's close?" Well, that depends on how much you trust your supplier.

Beer Appreciation is the space between pints.

KernelCrush

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Re: Hop Storage Index
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 03:44:52 AM »
That's the unknown. When a LHBS buys in bulk months ahead of time to get their best discount, and dont have a large cold storage to accommodate all their hop varieties + all their yeast then you almost have to think the hops are stored warm.  If they sell yeast that's a couple months old, then the hops must sit around for at least that long too and likely at room temperature or more.  Makes the hop age tool in Beersmith really a guessing game.  A date stamp on the packaging would take some of that away.  I guess there is a good reason ( for them ) they dont want to date stamp.  The first one that (hopefully) does will have an advantage.

Offline brewfun

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Re: Hop Storage Index
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2014, 05:52:06 PM »
So, I'm kinda torn here, KC. By no means do I know what goes on at every LHBS, but the ones I know are pretty straight shooters. Companies like MoreBeer and Northern Brewer have really changed the local store landscape.

I get where you're coming from. Most brewers love to know what goes on at every step of the process, including the supply side.

Most LHBS are on hop contracts just like the breweries. That means they can order on an as-needed basis December to October. Only during harvest and pelletizing do they need to be overstocked because the brokers make all of us do it.

Any LHBS is going to have trouble competing on price, so they'd better have something to give them an edge. I think an LHBS is more invested in the brewing success of repeat customers than you might think. To become a repeat, you have to be happy after going there the first time, right? I think that takes experience, knowledge and care for ingredients on their part.

So, I think if you can trust 'em, you'll know. ....That said: If they're not invested in your success as a brewer, get out! Seriously! Get out of their store! They don't deserve a dime of your money.

There's always Hops Direct and Nicobrew, who sort of act as hop brokers for homebrewers.
Beer Appreciation is the space between pints.

KernelCrush

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Re: Hop Storage Index
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2014, 10:52:04 AM »
I don't want to come off as cynical or jaded, but I guess I am.  I don't have much luck here with local stores.  Without giving a laundry list and just hitting the highlights, they advertise a wide selection as 'in stock'.  What you get is substituted grains and/or substituted hops and/or substituted yeast.  They both explain that they have the right to substitute without calling first.  One guy likes to ship 4-6 month old liquid yeast and expired (2 years + ! ) old dry yeast.  So I changed.    From the new guy the hops arrive in those thin cloudy plastic sandwich bags with variety & AA% written on the bag in magic marker and the substitutions continue.  You can smell the hops before you open the UPS box.  So I changed to MoreBeer and their hops arrive in generic packaging, but based on what you say it appears they package their own after buying on contract.  I didn't think the wholesale hop supply chain would allow that but its good to hear and thanks for clearing that up.

Offline grathan

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Re: Hop Storage Index
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2014, 12:11:22 PM »
You're smart to pay attention. I wish I had done so earlier instead of chasing the best bargain. There is a lot of vendors popping up with discounts it seems.

I never understood why the harvest year wasn't labelled on the package. Up until recently it seems you got what they gave you. If they were out of 2013 or wanted to push the 2012 through that is what you got.


I remember not just 5 years ago my local homebrew store had some of the hops sitting out on the shelf. I still have the package I bought for a Sam Adams clone I never made, probably a good thing I never used them.

I wonder if the breweries get the best hops.. You never see any t-45s for sale for homebrewers to try.


Almost as bad as a bale of hops sitting out or travelling by rail car would be the milling process that makes pellets. This can destroy the hop oils if they let the die get too hot. And even worse still is the packaging method. If your paying $20+/LB you should demand foil-lined, vacuum sealed, nitrogen flushed, mylar packaging.

KernelCrush

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Re: Hop Storage Index
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2014, 02:39:38 PM »
I'd like to see the harvest & the packaging date.  And cryogenic packaging.  And a storage temperature indicator like 'If the hops are blue its always been stored below freezing'.  I will be wanting for a long time.

Spoke to MoreBeer today.  They say they buy their hops in bulk once a year, in the spring. From what I have read normal harvest is in the fall.   They package them up in resale sizes as soon as they come in.    Their supplier gives them the AA at purchase time which is the AA they use to print their labels.  They are then stored at refrigerator temps, not freezing.  They do not adjust the AA from what their supplier tells them at purchase time.  This kind of tells me if I order in January or February that my hop age tool should be calculated on almost 1 year storage at around 45F.  Depending on the hop, I am getting about a 30% decline in AA in this worse case scenario.