Chances are if you are reading this blog you have already heard of cryo hops and are a bit curious. Maybe you have even heard they could save you money, but is that all? Cryo hops might seem like a bit of a gimmick, but is there more too them and why are they marketed as a flavor booster?
Cryo Hops should be used in larger batches to reduce trub levels and increase beer yield. Cost savings on cryo hops are currently nonexistent but the efficiency and yield gain is beneficial for breweries. Less grassiness and vegetal taste are beneficial for homebrewers.
Cryo hops are relatively new to the homebrewing scene and have only been available to homebrewers since 2017. It’s potential is promising and over time it could become even cheaper. Below, I describe the benefits of using cryo hops and key moments where it makes sense to the homebrewer.
When to Use Cryo Hops
I’m assuming you are here for one of two reasons:
- You want to know if cryo hops are beneficial to use and how to use them.
- What moment during the brewing process is the most beneficial to add your cryo hops.
To answer question number two:
Cryo hops are most beneficial for dry hopping, late boil, and/or whirlpool additions. Concentrated alpha and beta acid retention is exploited for maximum flavor and aroma.
Cryo hops can really boost aroma and juiciness of your beer. But, we still are learning the impact of alpha and beta acids and how they interact with the beer brewing process. This is why it’s suggested never to entirely replace your hop bill with all cryo hops, only about 40-50%.
Cryo hops should not be used for bittering as the acids are primarily meant to contribute to aroma. It has not been proven or marketed as to whether or not cryo hops contribute double the bitterness.
Cryo hops also have less grassy flavor, this is not a problem you have when bittering your hops so another benefit is forgone when bittering.
Efficient Yields and Less Trub
The main reason cryo hops are so beneficial for trub reduction and yield gains is because of their high alpha acid retention. This retention in alpha acid allows brewers to use half as many hops as if they were using normal pellet hops.
Because of this reduction in hops less of the wort will be lost soaking into the vegetal matter of the hops. Not only that but the cryo hops are also less absorbent. You might be wondering but how?
Well, what I forgot to mention was that cryo hops actually are also known as lupulin powder. This is essentially taking the lupulin gland from the hop and separating it from the rest of the hop matter. It is the most potent part of the hop plant and also less absorbent.
Breweries are Saving Money with Cryo Hops
A lot of breweries are using cryo hops to save a ton of money and increase yield. If you think about it, the volumes they are working with are making a lot of sense with cryo hops. Here are just a few ways they can save.
- Trub Reduction.
- Transportation Savings.
- Storage Savings.
David Draper from New Maritime Beer Co. explains that New Maritime uses Citra and Mosaic cryo hops in order to increase their yield but also because it results in a less grassy product.
Which makes me wonder. I’ve always thought crafter brewery beer tasted so delicious and crisp. Could cryo hops be the best kept secret of the industry as a whole? I think it warrants more experimentation among homebrewers. After all its essentially the same price anyways.
Drawbacks of Using Cryo Hops
There are some immediate drawbacks of using cryo hops. One was actually resolved. Cryo hops used to be only available in powder form, which caused issues where the hop powder would just float on top causing issues. Nowadays they are available in pellet form as well.
Other issues that have become apparent and have yet to be addressed are:
- The lack of variety. There is only a handful of popular hop varieties that you can get cryo hops for.
- Deterioration. Cryo hops without proper storage can deteriorate much more rapidly than normal hop pellets.
The deterioration of cryo hops may be a reason for a lot of homebrewers not to trust the product. If you find this at a local homebrew store of even online, it may have been in storage for a while and could have deteriorated.
Hops fresh from the manufacturer will always yield a better result but possibly more so with cryo hops.
Best Beer Styles for Cryo Hops
When utilizing cryo hops you will want to naturally target hopier beers. Any beers that only have bittering hops or don’t have a pronounced hop flavor are not very good candidates. The following are some of the best opportunities to use cryo hops:
- Pale ale
- West Coast IPA
- East Coast IPA
While there are many other hop forward beers that you can try cryo hops out with those are the classic examples. I might even be tempted to utilize cryo hops for a hefeweizen brew to get some good aroma. It could even do well in a crystalweiezen where better beer clarity is required.
When it comes to cryo hops though its dealers choice. You need to highlight the bright notes that are in the hops and the best way to do that is choosing hop forward, juicy and citrusy beers.
Cryo Hop Price Arbitrage
If you are looking for deals on hops than don’t discount cryo hops. You may not realize what they are and thus afraid to use them, but they are essentially just a more potent version of the typical hop pellets.
Thus if you find a deal where they are on sale for a price that rivals that of normal hop pellets, it may make sense to buy them since you won’t have to use as much to gain the same effects and you could end up with more beer, a nice bonus if you ask me.
Alternatives to Reduce Trub Loss
If you are worried about having a lower yield with your beer there are other ways to reduce trub loss that don’t involve buying cryo hops. If you not worried about a grassy taste or you don’t brew hop forward beers you can reduce hop trub by using a hop spider.
Hop spiders or baskets sit in the pot during the brewing. The hops are then pitched into the basket that can be removed post boiling. This greatly reduces your trub and increases your yield.
Trub efficiency is probably not much of a worry to the homebrewer, but hop spiders are a one time cost that will add up over time vs constantly buying more expensive hops. But, if its getting rid of a grassy flavor in your beer than cryo hops are worth a try.