Sunday, December 15, 2013

Single-Hop Beers (Part 1)

If I'm going to be running a blog called "The Hop Whisperer", I should really start off by posting about hops, right? There are a lot of new hop varieties that have become available to homebrewers in the past few years. A lot of times all the information you have is a half-sentence description on the website you're looking to buy your hops from. If you really want to know what a hop is all about, then the best way to figure that out is to brew a single-hopped batch of beer with it.

I've done this a few times now and have come up with a recipe and procedure that works pretty well for me. Generally, my goal is to stick to a recipe that will really let the hops shine through, but with enough malt backbone so you get a decent picture of how the hops interact with malt. My secondary goal is to be able to crank out as many batches as possible in a single brewday.

For the sake of efficiency, the recipe I use is an all-extract recipe. The idea is very similar to the "15-minute Pale Ale" recipe as seen on Basic Brewing Video and Beer & Wine Journal. To keep things even simpler, I don't use any steeping grains either. I'm not a big fan of Crystal malt in my pale ales anyways.

Here's a sample recipe. I shoot for 1.055 OG and 40-45 IBU's. That's enough IBU's to get a picture of how the hop works for bittering without being so much that it overshadows the flavor/aroma.

Title: Single Hop Pale Ale

Brew Method: Extract
Style Name: American Pale Ale
Boil Time: 15 min
Batch Size: 0.8 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 1 gallons

Original Gravity: 1.055
Final Gravity: 1.015
ABV (standard): 5.21%
IBU (tinseth): 40.96
SRM (morey): 4.8

0.8 lb - Dry Malt Extract - Extra Light (72.7%)
0.3 lb - Liquid Malt Extract - Munich (27.3%)

0.15 oz - Apollo, Type: Pellet, AA: 18, Use: First Wort, IBU: 40.96
0.25 oz - Apollo, Type: Pellet, AA: 18, Use: Boil for 0 min
0.5 oz - Apollo, Type: Pellet, AA: 18, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days

Fermentis / Safale - American Ale Yeast US-05

Add 2-2.5gm of dry yeast.

This is a 1-gallon preboil batch, which gets me roughly 0.8 gallons into the fermenter after a 15-minute boil. The hopping schedule is designed to maximize the amount of hop flavor and aroma. You'll notice I use a "FWH" addition as opposed to a 15-minute addition. I'm trying to get a little extra flavor contribution here, so the hops go in before the boil. The brewing software I use (Brewer's Friend) calculates FWH IBU's as a 20-minute addition, so I feel that this is a decent approximation of IBU's here.

Also note that for a relatively high AA% hop you can make a batch using a single 1-ounce bag of hops. Low alpha acid hops might take 2 ounces to hit the IBU level you want.

So that's the down & dirty on my recipe. Next up I'll give you a rundown on my procedure and how I get 7 or 8 batches done in the amount of time it normally takes for a typical all-grain brewday.

Click here for Part 2.


  1. Hi Eric,

    I'm getting ready to perform my own set of hop experiments following your technique. I'm sampling hops with AA% ranging from 18 all the way down to 7. I initially thought I'd not alter your method at all, and that the beers from the lower AA hops would be representative of how the hops would typically be used. But now I'm second guessing that plan.

    Why fall into the paradigm that high AA hops are for bittering and low for flavoring? Perhaps a low AA variety produces wonderful bittering properties, and quantities and boil times could be adjusted to achieve the desired IBU's with such a variety. So now I'm considering aiming for the same final IBU's in my batches to sample the full range of the hops' potentials by adjusting the FWH weights, leaving the zero minute and dry additions as they are.


    PS Great blog! Every post is a good read.

  2. That's pretty much what I do. I target the 40-45 IBU range by adjusting the FWH addition accordingly. If you want to get a good idea for how a hop works for bittering then I'd recommend brewing and tasting a few batches side-by-side. This way you have a good reference for comparison.

    Glad you like the blog! Good luck, and keep me posted on your results.