The Advantages of Using Hop Extracts Instead of Standard Hops

There are plenty of great reasons to use hop extracts as an alternative to standard hop infusions.

By Kinnek Knowledge Team  |  June 09, 2018

Hop extracts have been widely used in the large commercial brewing market for quite some time now, but have recently seen a substantial increase in popularity among the craft brewing crowd as well.

Interested in purchasing hop extracts for your brewery?  Get in touch with hop extract suppliers on the Kinnek platform here.

As a general rule, the craft brewing industry tends towards “natural” solutions and products, given that at least a sizable chunk of the perceived value of craft brews is based on the idea that brewers are committed to utilizing high-quality ingredients and — if necessary — tedious processes.  It should come as no big surprise, then, that the craft brewing industry was initially rather cold towards hop extracts, and instead used standard hops.  Over the years, however, many craft breweries have successfully experimented with hop extracts to great effect, and these days, there are few (if any) concerns about the artificiality of hop extracts.

In fact, there are a number of unique advantages to using hop extracts (over standard hop products in the form of pelletized hops, for example) that are worth considering.  Let’s take a quick look at some of these advantages.

Concentrated Acids and Oils Ensures Longer Shelf Life and Easier Storage

Hop extracts are essentially a concentrate of the alpha acids and oils naturally found within the hop itself.  This concentrated acid and oil (in the form of hop extract) has a lengthier shelf life than standard hops, as they are not subject to plant degradation or potential bacterial contamination.  Further, hop extracts can be stored in smaller spaces, thus making it significantly easier for brewers to maintain their “hop supply” from season-to-season without running into storage issues.

Last Second Adjustments are Possible

Hop extract may be added to the wort boil (same as standard hops) or may be added after fermentation, depending on the particular type of hop extract that you’re using.  Some hop extracts can be used very late in the process, and in fact, can even be added to a finished brew to infuse it with bitterness or a particular aroma.  This allows breweries to make last-second adjustments, which can be extremely valuable — for example, a small, independent craft brewery may find that their latest batch does not have sufficient bitterness, and could thus infuse the beer with extra hop extract to the finished product in order to give it the added bitterness it needs.

Hop Extract Ensures a “Clean Bitterness”

Many brewers have found that hop extract adds a particular kind of bitterness flavor profile to the beer that is distinct and unique from standard hops — in fact, they often describe the flavor as a “clean bitterness.”  Many popular IPAs utilize hop extracts for the “clean bitter” flavor profile.  It seems to be a big hit with consumers, so it’s worth considering!

Reduction in Wort Waste

The use of hop extract may lead to a reduction in wort waste, as the wort will not be soaked up and absorbed by the physical structure of hops added to the wort boil — such as flower or pellets.  Hop extract avoids such waste, as the extract is not “removed” from the wort (nor from the finished beer product).

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