In Praise of Pellet Hops

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had my first experiment with pelletised hops. Racking my House Ale today, I was overcome with the voluptuous aroma rising from the casks. I’m surprised; read most of the literature and comments on internet forums and the consensus is that whole flower hops have the better aroma – albiet with the caveat ‘if they are fresh’ attached – but, pellet hops have better storability. Indeed, many breweries proudly boast their use of whole flower hops (sometimes the misnomer ‘whole leaf’ hop is used). Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, renowned for it’s beautiful Cascade aroma, springs to mind as an example. I’m convinced enough, for now, to experiment solely with pellet hops for my aroma additions in subsequent brew-days. As a reference point, this beer, for a 10 gallon brewlength, used 35g of Styrian Goldings at ‘flame out’. I distinctly remember a batch of beer I made piling in 120g of whole flower Styrian Goldings at the end of the boil, and the aroma wasn’t as intense. Those were hops directly from a hop broker, which makes it all the more puzzling.

My house ale was racked into casks today with 30ml of cane sugar and 40ml of fresh Isinglass. It will remain at room temperature for a few days to kick start secondary fermentation before being moved to cellar temperature (11C) where it will be vented and served.



  1. Wez · July 2, 2008

    Interesting post, I’ve found that using whole flower hops that the end result in the cask can be quite dissapointing, in that the aroma and flavour seem to fade too quickly and beer is actually best drunk young, in fact thinking back the only beer that I’ve made so far that this didn’t happen to was my SNPA clone, which I used Magnum in pellet form and Perle (whole flower) for bittering then 30g (whole flower) Cascade at 10 mins and 50g (whole flower) at 80c steeped for 15 mins. (25L batch) This was also the only time i’ve used US-05 – does this yeast allow the hops to come through more do you think?

  2. Geoff · July 2, 2008

    I’m still working all this out Wez, but my findings accord with yours. I have real trouble keeping hop aroma in the keg. I’m not afraid of piling masses of hops in at the end of the boil, either. One thing (I think) i’ve noticed is that carbonation seems to numb hop character a bit.

    I don’t like dry hopping because of the ‘grassy’ flavour it seems to give the beer. I’ve heard it doesn’t happen with pellets so, we’ll see. I’m going to see how long my beer keeps its hop aroma before I dry hop it with Styrian pellets.

    One thing i’m surprised about is this point is never really discussed on forums or in books.

    Another completely bizarre thing I noticed with an SNPA clone I made was that the hop character faded quickly… then came back after 5 weeks of maturation, after not drinking it for a while. I was wondering for a while if your palate just gets so used to the flavour of a hop that you don’t taste it if you’re drinking it every day… probably a load of bollocks though 🙂

  3. Iowalad · September 13, 2008

    Steve Flack pointed out the overlooked benefit of pellets on Jim’s forum (they store better so retain flavor better).

    I find dry hopping with pellets gives me a grassy flavor (which I also don’t care for).

    I am also having trouble with hop aroma disappearing in my kegs quickly. I suspect overcarbonation my be an issue. I probably overcarb and let my cask breather sort it out. I also wonder if cold conditioning plays a role. I have been cold conditioning of late (to near 0C ) and I am wondering if it knocks out some hop aroma as well.

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