Today we will be discussing isomerised hop pellets and what they can contribute to your beer.
Isomerised hop pellets are cylindrical pellets similar to standard T-90 hop pellets, however they have been stabilized then heated in order to convert the majority of the α-acids into iso-α-acids.
- Iso-α-Acids: 2-25% depending on the original alpha content of the variety.
- β-Acids: 1-15% depending on variety.
- Hop Oils: 1-6% depending on variety.
- Moisture: 7-9%
The use of isomerised hop pellets is similar to using standard pellets with the additional benefit of increased utilization of at least 50% better than cones or standard pellets. However it is recommended that this product is added early to the boil as a bittering agent, as adding them late to the boil will impact aroma.
First a stable hop product is produced by blending hop powder with a small quantity of magnesium oxide powder (MgO) and pelletizing the blend. The pellets are then packaged and heated to 50ºC for one to two weeks in order to isomerise over 90% of the α-acids.
Storage of this product is similar to the storage of standard hop pellets. The isomerised pellets should be stored cold at less than 5ºC where they are best used within 3-4 years if unopened. If opened it is recommended that they be used quickly to avoid deterioration of essential oils and bitter acids.
Who’s Using Them?
As this product can be used in a similar fashion to standard hop pellets, they can and are being used by both small brew-pubs up to large macro breweries. There are mainly two ways in which these pellets are used. First they can be used in order to achieve the same amount of bitterness while using less hop material due to being able to reach a higher percentage of utilization than standard hop products. Secondly they can be used in amounts similar to the amounts added for a standard bittering addition in order to impart a higher level of bitterness to the beer.
Though this product can be used in any beer style it is best suited to styles that are closer to the bitter end of the spectrum due to the increased utilization over standard hop products.
- The ability to reduce boiling time allowing you to decrease the cost of energy.
- The increase in utilization of the hops allowing you to reduce the amount of product used or increase the amount of bitterness imparted to the beer.
- Can be stored at warmer temperatures because of the stability of iso-α-acids though it is recommended to store the product cold.
- This product tends to take up less storage room due to requiring less of it in the brewing process and therefore having a reduced quantity on hand.
- The magnesium oxide could be considered a chemical addition.
- The aromatics of the hop variety may have changed due to the application of heat in the isomerisation process, therefore they are best used for bittering.