Noble Experiment

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The Hop Infused Gin Experiment Continues…

The hop infused gin experiment is moving forward and I’ve found that there is a substantial difference among different hops. The earthy, floral hops add a much subtler flavor and are, at times, overpowered by the botanicals in the gin. Even with a less juniper-heavy gin such as Bluecoat, I’m still finding that the hop aroma is muted.

I’ve also found that the high alpha hops are adding substantially more bitterness than I had anticipated. I had assumed that without boiling the hops, I wouldn’t get a lot of bitterness. But as it turns out, the infusion is adding a lingering bitterness to the finish of the gin. Even after the hop leaf is strained, the remaining small particles continue to add some bitterness, so I think that a cheesecloth strain is necessary.

This new experiment should prove interesting. I have a wide range of  hops with different levels of alpha acids and different flavor characteristics that I will be able to taste side by side. I anticipate Cascade to be the best fit, but who knows. The best hop up to this point has been Chinook.

7 comments on “The Hop Infused Gin Experiment Continues…

  1. James Schuster
    January 10, 2013

    Great blog, and I am hoping to learn more about your hop experiment. My favorite hops are Simcoe and cascade (love the piney/citrusey combo), which I think would be fantastic in my house-infused gin. Ever try Simcoe in your gins? Also, can you update me on your best bet for making 750 ml of hop infused gin (amount of hops, time in bottle, refrigerated, etc?) Thanks in advance- Jamie

    • Dave McCabe
      January 13, 2013

      Hi Jamie, Thanks for the comment. Most of the hops that I chose were based on Alpha Acid levels. The higher the alpha acid, the more bitterness they will impart. In a typical brewery, bitterness is only extracted with heat and time, but I’ve found that AA levels can impart bitterness relatively quickly in an infused gin.

      I never used Simcoe, but I have used Cascade hops in the past. Cascade is a great varietal for a gin infusion. Other great (similar) hops include Citra (although it’s higher AA) and Nelson Sauvin.

      I’ve found that 24 hours is typically plenty of time to extract the flavor components you might be looking for. After that you start to get more bitterness and more off flavors. For a 750ml bottle of gin, I used 1/4 oz of hops, although that will vary based on the type of hop. You don’t need to refrigerate, but it can’t hurt.

      One thing that I found in my experiments is that often times earthy, floral hops (English and Euro hops) have a more interesting impact on the gin. The citrus that you get in a cascade hop used in an IPA doesn’t shine through as much as you might hope, often being overshadowed by the strong botanicals in the gin. But the earthy, floral notes of English hops gave a unique twist on the final product. At the end of the day, I’d recommend experimenting with small batches and lots of different hops.


      • James Schuster
        January 13, 2013

        Thanks again, Dave- very helpful. One question I forgot to ask- I assume from your pictures you are using whole hops, not the compressed pellets- and that 1/4 oz of whole hops is a lot less potent than the same weight of compressed pellets. True?

        You are providing a wonderful service to us hophead Gin and Tonic lovers- a combination that now works!


      • Dave McCabe
        January 13, 2013

        yes, I’ve found whole hops to be better although a smaller quantity of pellets would probably work fine. Good luck and let me know how it comes out!

      • Dave McCabe
        January 13, 2013

        The pellets tend to be more potent and can be more bitter and slightly less aromatic, which is why I like the whole cones. If you have more questions let me know.

      • James Schuster
        January 13, 2013

        fantastic! Thanks again.

  2. Pingback: The Year In Review – 2011 « The Noble Experiment

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This entry was posted on November 2, 2011 by in Cocktail, Liqueur, Made From Scratch, Mixer, Recipe and tagged , , , .
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