Cryo Hops and Short Boils – An Extract Only Homebrew Experiment

Cryo Hops: Magic hops made from Science-ing!

What can I say?  I got an itch to do an extract only homebrew recipe.

For those of you that are still reading, despite the “extract-only” nature of this post, there are a few things at play with this recipe.  First, it’s a very small beer, weighing in at less than 4% ABV. Second, the entire boil will only last 15 minutes, and all of the IBUs in this beer are coming from late hop additions.  Third, I’m using fucking Cryo Hops!

This entire recipe is all about meticulous number crunching, and super sweet space technology!

Why A Short Boil?

Late extract additions have been a common practice for extract brewers.  It reduces excessive carmelization of the wort, and helps reduce the potential for dreaded “extract twang”.  Some brewers add half of their extract at the beginning, and the rest near the end of the boil.  Other brewers wait to add the entire weight of their extract at flameout.  Malt extract has already gone through the process of becoming wort.  It doesn’t require a full 60-minute boil for hot break, or removing DMS. In fact, the only real purpose in boiling malt extract is to sterilize the wort.

Feel The Burst!

The problem with short boils is hop utilization.  Almost every beer recipe has a 60-minute hop addition for bittering.  Since I’m only boiling for 15 minutes, I have to hop burst the shit out of this beer!  All of the IBUs will be acquired during the 15 minute boil, with more than 50% of the total IBUs come from steeped flameout hops.

Hop bursting has two advantages.  First, it allows for a shorter boil.  But more importantly, since none of the hops are boiling for more than 15 minutes, I’m going to get a TON of aroma and flavor!  I’m a big fan of tropical and orchard fruit hops, so I chose Citra, El Dorado, and Azacca for this beer.  I also wanted a BU:GU ratio around 0.80.

Cryo Hops = Space Magic!

I threw some numbers into Beersmith, and discovered I needed about 4 ounces of hops.  I took my recipe into CoBrew, and walked over to the hop cooler. Sadly, the Alpha acid rating on all the hops were about 3% less than the numbers I had been working with in Beersmith.  I went outside on the patio to have a beer, and rework the numbers.  As it turned out, I was going to need 5 ounces!

I thought about all the hop material that would be at the bottom of my fermenter. I thought about the amount of loss to hop trub.  I thought about how 75% of the cost of this bantam-weight beer recipe would be spent on hops.  I wasn’t thrilled.

That’s when Ian, the friendly CoBrew employee, asked if I needed any help.  I told him about my recipe, and he thought it was a great idea.  We shared our love of sessionable, yet hoppy beers, and he asked me if I had heard about Cryo Hops.  I hadn’t.

I’m not going to pretend I understand the wizardy behind Cryo Hops.  All of the science magic nerdery specifics can be found in the YCH Cryo Hops press release.  However, here’s the barebones idea:

  • Concentrated alpha acid content — roughly double, compared to regular pellet hops.
  • Ideally suited for flavor, aroma, and dry hopping additions.

Holy crap, this checks all my boxes!

For the sake of comparison, the regular Citra pellets had an alpha acid rating of 12.8%. The Citra Cryo Hops were rated at 25.2%, and the Mosaic Cryo Hops were rated at 24.8%.  I just doubled my hop utilization at half the weight! Cryo Hops are slightly more expensive based on gross weight.  However, when you consider that you’re paying about $1 more for twice the AA%, this is a no-brainer bargain! Despite the fact that I traded El Dorado and Azacca for Mosaic, I’m more than happy with my choice.

Win – effin’ – Win!

Enough talk.  Here’s the recipe for my 15-minute boil, extract-only, Session APA:

Napoleon Complex

OG: 1.038
ABV: 3.8%
IBUs: 30.1
BU:GU: 0.792

      • 4# Amber DME
      • 1# Wheat DME
      • 4g Citra Cryo Hops @ 15 min (5.5 IBU)
      • 11g Mosaic Cryo Hops @ 6 min (7.8 IBU)
      • 11g Citra Cryo Hops @ Flameout – Steep 15 min (8.6 IBU)
      • 10g Mosaic Cryo Hops @ Flameout – Steep 15 min (7.5 IBU)
      • Safale American US-05 yeast
      • 13.3g Citra Cryo Hops – Dry Hop – 3 days
      • 7.3g Mosaic Cryo Hops – Dry Hop – 3 days

Ferment in primary for 10 days.
Rack to secondary, and dry hop for 3 days.
Bottle, and allow to carbonate for 14 days
Cold crash, and enjoy!

Has anyone else gotten a chance to brew with Cryo Hops yet?  What did you think, and what were your results?

Side note:  For this recipe, I weighed my hops in grams because it’s much more precise.  I only had a total of 2 ounces, and my scale is only accurate to 1/10 ounce.  One-tenth of an ounce = 2.8 grams.  My first hop addition was only 4 grams.  I could have weighed out as much as 6 grams before my scale would have changed from 0.1 oz to 0.2 oz.  That’s quite a margin of error!!

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