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Hops or not?

I am doing a hop whiskey from the alt whiskeys book. But as i get closer to doing my final run with hops and doing reading about hops i am on the fence. I know the dangers of light struck and oxidization through beer and they seem even more scary in a spirit?

Any thoughts or knowledge to share?

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  • I was going to do that but I didnt. I tried a hopped gin and it is great but the Hops is in stark releif to the other flavors, if you get the expression. The only people who like it are Beer fanatics and even then not a lot. But go for it Scottystraub. What do you have to lose. I have tried about 4 different recipes from that book and they are all gold. And I have tried other variations. Like a corn moonshine with 10% wheat which was fantastic and a 60% barley 20% wheat 10% oats combination that was really really nice. From my very limited experience with hops is its very easy to overdo it. I used about 3 grams of hops, not even a handful, in my 20l gin run and was very strong. I am sure there will be one or two people who have more experience. I love that book. I have read it about 10 times.

  • edited February 2

    I have tried distilling hopped beer a few times. First you need to decarbonate it completely or your still will puke during the run. This shouldn’t be a problem if you ferment beer with the intent to distill it. Let it ferment until all of the carbon dioxide has gone.

    I found the distilled hop flavor unpleasant. If I didn’t know the flavor was from hops, I would not have guessed it was from hops. It does not taste the same as it does in beer. More of an undesirable off-flavor than anything else.

    The flavor is tenacious. It came through in subsequent runs when I tried to distill the hopped white dog into neutral.

    FWIW - I really like hoppy beers.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • Most of the hopped craft whiskies on the market are failed batches given away by brewers for free.

    On snap, he didn’t just say that to the world.

  • I know this isn't reddit, but I'll upvote @grim

    Also, if you have a Carter head (gin basket... whatever) use your hops there. You'll actually have control instead of hoping to your god of choice it works out.

  • edited February 2

    @grim said: Most of the hopped craft whiskies on the market are failed batches given away by brewers for free.

    I was recently at the Thirsty Bear brewpub in San Francisco. I was talking story with an off duty bartender sitting next to me at the bar. He had a bag stashed at his feet. In it was a hand-numbered bottle of hopped whisky he was allowed to purchase by having a membership in a local distillery's elite purchasers club. He was very proud of that bottle. It cost him a lot. Fancy bottle and label. I tried hard not to ruin his enthusiasm. I asked if he had ever had hopped whisky before. He said no, and he was sure it would be amazing because he likes hoppy beers so much. I told him it is an acquired taste, and commented on the cool bottle and label.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • edited February 3

    Our IPA cask finished bourbon - collab with a local brewery, was our fastest selling whiskey ever. We sold 300 bottles out of the tasting room in something like 3 days. It was not hoppy, it was not bitter, it tasted nothing like IPA. Was a heavy citra IPA - the whiskey had just a hint of citrus, grapefruit, and a little tropical fruit. Likewise, they sold out of all the barrel aged IPA in a few days as well.

    Finishing in beer barrels is a real pain in the as& - so much residual yeast, no matter what you do to wash it.

  • edited February 3

    So did it sell on the idea of what it was, or would it have sold out if no one had any idea of what it was?

    Maybe I need to tweak my methods?

    If hopped beer whisky is a thing, why is it only now becoming a thing? Hopped beer has been around for centuries. It never occurred to anyone before now? (not picking a fight - genuinely curious)

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • I've distilled hopped beers twice, once as a demo for the book with Miler Lite (I think) and the other with a very hoppy holiday ale. The lightly hopped distillate was just not very good, but the holiday ale whiskey was just nasty. I've only known one distiller that actually claimed to like hopped whiskey, and I haven't heard from him for maybe 15 years; I bet that shit killed him.

    Germans call it bierschnapps, and I bet that, just like us, it comes from distilling a screw-up and nobody likes it.

    Grim's story, which I believe just because of who he is, is the first believable story of good results. I must be getting soft.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • *upvotes @Kapea

    For what its worth, the Jamo stout-rested batches thoroughly trounce the ipa-rested versions.

  • @zymurgybob Bierschnapps/brand from what I know is distilled from the residual alcohol in the yeast slurry. I haven't had one in a while but I remember it being very pleasant.

    On the hoped whiskeys, I got a leftover batch of beer when I started and think I still have a bottle of it somewhere. Need to check on taste...

  • I think any additional heat in the process would just drive off the aroma and create a stronger bitter . I will go with the carter head as mentioned above . Hops in the boiler seems like a bad idea .

    A hoppy beer in a clear bottle or left open to oxygen would be horrible.

    making a hoppy spirit would have the same problem ? Black bottles to protect from light or single use packaging to keep oxygen away ?

    Or do hops act differently in spirit as compared to beer ?

  • Got a pallet of really hop-forward IPA cans that did not meet the QC of a great local brewery whose owner is really strict on quality...... 4 people opened, dumped, crushed 2000+ cans yesterday into the 1000L still... took four hours, here is the last can going in, will run tomorrow... we have a batch from another brewery that was similar and came out with a great hop profile in the low wines... (and an improvement in flavor/aroma with the copper Bain-marie over the previous stainless/direct-electric still runs..) now to come up with a label...

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  • edited February 3

    Why not just stack the cans over a big pan and open up on them with a M4 on full auto? 2000 cans done in 15 minutes, max.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • that was discussed, but was deemed that lead and gunpowder were non-GRAS....

  • so the heads and early hearts were huge in what I want to call "coriander".... smelled just like my single botanical coriander I made in the lab still...

    Very interesting... I think it will be turned into Gin, not some bastardized whiskey... I have another batch of hoppy beer I did a few months ago that tastes much more whiskey friendly....

  • Hi (This is my first time here, posting. A few of the names on this thread are familiar to me though and have helped in my education on this stuff. Thank ye.)

    I talked my friend with a small brewery out of doing this because of strong warnings against doing it due to bad flavours and hard to clean hops oil getting all through the condenser and ruining future runs.

    @grim / @CothermanDistilling: did you do anything to avoid those fates? Any theories as to why sometimes it works, other times it's bad?

  • Wondering why you talked someone out of doing something when you are not experienced on it yourself?

    Ethanol is a great solvent, Fores too... and if you clean your still like any distiller would after Gin, you are fine.... Put some macerated cucumber in your still and come out with a green gorilla glue like substance and you would trade for hops in a second...

  • edited February 6

    We are going to do some collaborations with the brewery opening next door - but we will have them skip the hops.

    Dark malts are way more interesting. If they want to get really creative with mashbills, caramel malts, chocolate malts, light amounts of oak or beech smoke, wheats, ryes.

    There are millions of possible options that don’t include hops. Tons of ways to do some incredibly brilliant, never before tried whiskies, while still respecting the beer styles they resemble.

  • I got a stout(hopless) whiskey coming out of the 15G barrel next month, cannot wait...

  • Caramel and dark malts are fantastic. I have a Caravienne/Carafa thing fermenting right now. Rye malt/Caramunich was a good combo too, need to do that again.

  • Derek Bell's book 'Alt Whiskies' is a great read with lots of recipes...

  • edited February 6

    You can get some really great roasty, bitter, coffee, cocoa flavors with the dark malts - it absolutely comes across in the distillate.

    Little goes a long way, 10% is plenty from my experiments, though we did a chocolate wheat whiskey that was north of 40%.

  • My Chinook rhizome sprouted this morning <:-P

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  • @CothermanDistilling said: Wondering why you talked someone out of doing something when you are not experienced on it yourself?

    That's a deep question. I think if we were truly aware of our limitations we'd feel that no piece of knowledge is absolute, it's merely a fragile probabilistic hypothesis. If we visualised our knowledge as interlocking chains of logic, any weakness of our beliefs in each and every joint could be represented by a shimmering distortion around it. Now imagine a flow of information like a tide carrying flotsum and jetsum washing through the landscape, each piece attacking our chains of beliefs, strengthening, weakening or destroying them. We systematically run experiments designed to attack these chains. And we would test the robustness of our conclusions and decisions by imagining the implications of just one of these beliefs being false, and the ripple effect down the chains beneath it as they shift and change into new configurations. And trying again with another. And another... The majestic rippling landscape of uncertain knowledge as probabilistic flow.

    But when that gets a bit much, I just go off what some random person on the internet says. ;)

  • ooooooommmmmm...

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • I am gonna give hops a shot with the alt whiskeys recipe . I just Got some whole leaf citra hops, pellets just seemed like they would turn to mush in the carter head .

  • Yes, whole leaf flowers retain the most aroma, and the Carter head is used specifically to isolate flavours via aroma

    Ps: theres a really nice Carter head on that still @Scottystraub ;)

  • @grim said: We are going to do some collaborations with the brewery opening next door - but we will have them skip the hops.

    Dark malts are way more interesting. If they want to get really creative with mashbills, caramel malts, chocolate malts, light amounts of oak or beech smoke, wheats, ryes.

    There are millions of possible options that don’t include hops. Tons of ways to do some incredibly brilliant, never before tried whiskies, while still respecting the beer styles they resemble.

    Strongly agree on the dark malts (we use a crystal 120), and also honey malt, which I don't know how to classify.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • I have been doing some barley wheat oats combinations that are coming out great as a white dog. I did a Quinoa bourbon that is aging out very nicely, but was a spectacular white dog, and I recently did some corn moonshine but added some Wheat at 10% and some oats at 5%. Came out very nice and that is aging on some oak. I am intrigued with the dark malts as much for bourbons as anything else.

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