If you’ve followed along for a while you understand my obsession with brewing New England IPAs. Homebrewers and commercial brewers alike are constantly looking for new ways to add unique and intense hop character to their hazy IPAs. The style of beer has taken the craft beer world by storm, so naturally, hop providers are doing everything they can to maximize results for their customers and beer drinkers.
Enter Cryo Hops® by Yakima Chief Hops—a concentrated hop pellet that provides intense flavor and aroma without introducing any undesirable characteristics. Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) was generous enough to send me a variety of hops to experiment with and report on my findings!
What Are Cryo Hops?
Cryo Hops were born from a cryogenic hop-processing technology used to separate whole cones into two components—concentrated lupulin and bract. Lupulin contains resins and aromatic oils that provide intense hop flavor and aroma. This enables brewers to dose large quantities of alpha acids and oils without introducing astringent or vegetative flavors. Cryo Hops look like your standard T-90 pellet and can be used during any stage of the brewing process.
Cryo Hops Benefits
The biggest change I’ve noticed when it comes to brewing with Cryo Hops is the intensity of flavor and aroma. Cryo Hops double the potency of your typical T-90 hop addition and eliminate the portion that is adding little value to your beer. I realize that is a loaded statement so let me clarify.
I like to compare the flavor and aroma of Cryo-hopped beers to inhaling a freshly opened bag of hops. Your nostrils are hit with an intense aromatic experience that never quite translates with your typical T-90 pellet. Cryo Hops help to retain some of that raw hop flavor in your finished beer. While the flavor profile may not be for everyone, I personally love the fresh resinous notes that shine through.
Less Beer Loss
With the quantities of hops I’m adding to my NEIPAS, I’m seeing substantial losses from those little sponges they call hops. My typical batch requires 6 gallons of final wort to actually fill a 5-gallon corny keg come packaging day. Cryo Hops allow the brewer to add fewer hops and achieve the same level of flavor in your final product.
This is a major factor when it comes to the commercial world since beer loss means lower margins and less revenue. While I can’t say I feel the same level of pressure with my homebrew, I appreciate a fuller keg and less sludge in the bottom of my fermenter. This benefit is obviously geared towards the commercial brewer relying on revenue to support their business. A 5% yield increase in a massive brewhouse presents real revenue even after you account for the increased cost of the product.
While this isn’t a major benefit for homebrewers, it’s not the only reason these hops are beneficial.
The general rule of thumb when hopping with Cryo Hops is to use about half the weight of your typical T-90 pellet. An 8-ounce dry hop of T-90 pellets can effectively be replaced with 4-5 ounces of Cryo Hops. This logic has typically worked well for me and has delivered fairly consistent results.
When to Use Cryo Hops
YCH recommends you save Cryo Hops for post-boil, whirlpool, or dry hop additions. Boiling Cryo Hops eliminates any benefit as it’s just going to boil off the alpha acids and spoil your expensive hops. A larger T-90 whirlpool addition could be supplemented with Cryo Hops to add unique character and prevent excessive trub in the kettle.
While I can absolutely vouge for using Cryo Hops in the whirlpool, I think their true value unveils itself in the fermenter. Dry hopping with Cryo Hops is going to carry the most hop flavor and aroma through to your final beer. This is where you’ll see more saturated hop flavor and enhanced aroma in your hoppy beers.
I think an important thing to understand is Cryo Hops should be seen as a complementary element to your hop profile. I still think you need contributions from T-90 pellets to round out your beers and add depth. I like to view Cryo Hops as accents that can really bring out the flavors in other hops—a little goes a long way. I recently added a very small 1/2 once Ekuanot™ Cryo addition to a 7-ounce dry hop charge and it added a nice pop of character that really brought the entire beer together.
Keg Hopping with Cryo Hops
A large group of homebrewers are really into keg fermenting and dry hopping serving kegs. I’ve experimented with keg hopping a few times and I’ve personally experienced intense vegetal flavors from extended cold dry hopping. This is where Cryo Hops can really come in handy.
In addition to flavor contributions, Cryo Hops won’t reveal the same grassy and vegetal flavors that tend to present themselves at colder serving temps. If you’re looking to start keg hopping, I’d highly recommend you start with small doses of Cryo Hops.
Cryo Pop™ Original Blend
Since I originally started writing this article, there’s been yet another player added to the market. Cryo Pop™ Original Blend is a newer product from Yakima Chief that essentially builds on the Cryo Hop technology and further amplifies it by blending a series of compounds from multiple hop varieties. To try to put it simply, it’s the process of extracting the most beer-soluble aspects of several hop varieties to create a super hop with lots of rich tropical flavors.
Cryo Pop can be used in single hopped beers since it’s actually a blend of multiple varieties. It can also of course be used in conjunction with T-90 pellets as an accent hop. I’m yet to experiment with this in homebrew but I’ve experienced it in commercial beers. It certainly packs a punch of Cryo flavor so I’m eager to get my hands on some soon!
Cryo Hops have been really fun and interesting to experiment with. If you’re a hop head, they’re certainly worth the investment despite being more expensive than traditional pellets. The increased beer yield is obviously not going to shake out for homebrewers as it does for commercial shops. Then again no homebrewer gets into homebrewing with the intention of saving money on beer.
Financial arguments aside, Cryo Hops still bring a special element to the table and make for a powerful brewing ingredient. If you’re interested in using Cryo Hops, check out Yakima Chief Hops. I’ve always been blown away by their exceptionally fast and free shipping.