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The Not-So-Great Hop Fade


Scot — Chicago, Illinois asks,

I typically purchase hops a pound (0.45 kg) at a time and usually a year old to get a bargain. Therefore, the bulk of my hops are about 2 years old. When I open the hops I break them down into 1-oz. (28-G) bags that I then vacuum seal.

I like making New England IPAs with the usual suspects: Citra®, Simcoe®, Mosaic®, etc. I have noticed that over my past handful of batches that the initial huge aroma blast I get when kegging the beer has usually subsided by the time it finishes carbonating (~1 week to carbonate). No matter which hops, no matter which combination of hops, they all fade to a “berry” aroma (tropical no longer exists) before becoming what I describe as a muted, lackluster mess. I don’t drink them as they aren’t what I am expecting. The beer itself doesn’t seem to have flaws.

I have been scratching my head and can only think it is due to the age of the hops. On brew day the hops smell wonderful prior to putting in the beer. When kegging, they typically smell great. But a week after being in the keg . . . done! I have successfully made many New England IPAs in the past and I have been brewing for 10+ years, so I think my overall process is good. I have been cold crashing by placing the carboy in the freezer for 24–48 hours prior to kegging.

Question and answer columns can be really frustrating for the writer when a question seems totally answerable until details within the question get in the way of the answer. Pesky details! This
Response by Ashton Lewis.