French Press Hop Steeping

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To finish out hop week, I will share what probably seems like one of my stranger ideas. You may be familiar with Dogfish Head’s Randall The Enamel Animal. If not, it is chamber that was originally meant to be filled with hops, but has since been used for all kinds of other ingredients as well, with tubes on either end. One hooks up to a tap, the other is its own second tap.

Beer travels through and is mixed with the hops as it’s being served. It is sort of like a hop back but intended as a last step before the beer is consumed. I found a small french press coffee pot on clearance for about ten dollars and it seemed like an opportunity to replicate the Randall at home.

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I just put the hops in the bottom, then fill it with beer. It holds about sixteen ounces, so I normally open two bottles, fill it and keep the rest of the second bottle to compare as a control. After the hops and beer are in, I put the lid with plunger on and give it a minute, then pour myself a glass.

This works well, with just a couple issues. First of all, it works much better with hop flowers than pellets. Pellets are fine, as long as you don’t mind some of them floating in your beer, but the plunger filter will not keep them all out. The other problem I have is foaming. I’m not sure what the reason is, but I always get tons of foam when I pour the beer into the pot.

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Recently, I used this with a some Table Cat and Galaxy hops leftover from my Galaxy IPA. It really adds a ton of fresh hop aroma. I don’t think the actual flavor is changed much, but there is so much sensation from the smell that it is definitely worth trying. I’d like to try this with other ingredients like fruit and spices. Maybe use a subtle base beer like Elkland Golden Lager and add some spices to see what I’d like to add to one of the Abbey beers I’m planning. Or maybe, if I’m feeling crazy, I could even use it to steep some coffee in a beer.

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