How I make Hop Vodka.
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I use hop vodka to "Juice up" a plain old yellow beer! I like hoppie beer but I hate to brew 5 gallons and have the flavor fade before I can finish it off. Whatever the reason, I just like to have a pint or two of hop vodka on hand to add a bit of hops to any beer that needs it. The vodka doesn't hurt any either!

I start buy using my small french press and about 1/2 of a ounce (bag) of pellet hops. I pour in enough vodka to dissolve the pellets with enough extra vodka to allow it to slosh around a bit.

If you have a bigger french press than you can use that. You could use a full bag of hops or more. It doesn't matter as long as you can stir it up and not have it turn into a brick. The pellet hops really swell up! Be ready to add more vodka!

I use like to use Amarillo pellet hops but they all work! Aroma hops would seem to be the choice to make but I found that some mainly bittering hops were awesome! (Chinook)

It's nice to try various types of hops to get a feel for one type over another. By using one variety of hops at a time you can get a hop profile for future reference. Adding this to a standard beer can make a "Dudwieser" into a IPA!

 
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I use cheap vodka. No need to use your best. Inexpensive vodka is more bitter that good filtered vodka. Hey! We add hops to bitter our beer don't we? It goes along perfectly!

You mix up the pellet* hops to dissolve them. Stirring well to suspend them in the vodka. Let them steep for at least 15 or 20 minutes. I don't really know how long they need to steep but I suppose that longer is better?

Edit: I now use a larger French Press (32oz) but the method remains the same. You are looking for about a 50/50 ratio of water to vodka. I now use a one ounce package of hops per liter (quart) of liquid so I fill my press half way with vodka and on the second go-around half way with water. look below for clarification.

* I suppose whole fresh hops could be used also? But whole hops "could?" be too much volume and may present problems during pressing? Please let me know if you try other than pelletized hops! I would like to know?

 
hop vodka3 After your done waiting you can push in the plunger and extract the vodka. The plunger will be hard to push in. Don't force it, go slowly and evenly. If you didn't put in enough vodka than you won't dissolve the oils The hops will hold some vodka but that's OK because you will reuse the hops and do this same step with water.
 
hop vodka4 Pour off the vodka and reuse the hops by pouring water on top of the spent hops. Stir it up. Try to put about the same amount of water on the hops (as you used for vodka) to reuse them. The water will extract the vodka in the pellets (now mush) and some more of the volatile oils. Try to keep the vodka and water to a 50-50 ratio. After 20? minutes. Plunge the water hops mixture and pour it into the vodka extracted earlier.
 
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As you can see here the plunger left a pattern in the pressed hops. The second plunging with water is the last chance to get aroma oils out. Press hard to get every last drop out.

So far we have..

1. dissolved pellet hops into vodka and waited (20 minutes?)
2. pressed out the vodka into a bottle and refilled the press with water and stirred.
3. waited 20 minuets and pressed out the water and added it to the vodka (50-50 ratio)

No sense wasting the hops!

 
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Scoop out the hops with a spoon and place them into a bag for storage. I freeze the bag and thaw for use as a bittering hop.

 
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I must do this process two times because of my small french press. If you have a bigger press than you may do this procedure only once. If so, maybe you could wait a little longer while the mixture extracts the oils? Anyway, take the hops and put them in a freezer bag, label it and throw it in the freezer and use for bittering hops or whatever you want? Why waste them? the vodka and water extracts the flavoring oils and not the bitter compounds. The bitter compounds are extracted by heat in the boil.

 

 
hop vodka8 End of the first run. I have do it again to use the other 1/2 ounce (bag). I use only one ounce of hops to make my hop vodka. You can use as much as you like to kill those taste buds! Remember that you should only make enough to fill a bottle.
 
hop vodka9 The Amarillo pellet hops go in the freezer and the bottle of 50-50 (water-vodka) goes in the refrigerator for four days or more? The amount of time you wait will pay off in the end. Gravity and time will do most of the work for you!
 
hop vodka10 If you have the patience to wait, do it! The longer the mixture sits the more it separates. This is the reason we are doing this step. The particulate matter must sink to the bottom for this to work correctly. The liquid looks fairly clear and you don't see any specks floating around. The yellow elixir still has hop matter in it and we want it out!
 
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Carefully put the bottle in the freezer. Don't shake it or bump it or you will have to start over again! The bottle will freeze over the next day and be ready to separate out the vodka. I leave enough headroom in the bottle. I have never had the bottle burst by freezing! I suppose the 50-50 solution is just about right for this step. I do loosen the cap but I am cautious. Someday I may lose a bottle. I hope you don't!

You may decide to use a plastic bottle some other container but remember. You need to invert the container to extract the vodka. See the pictures below to fully comprehend.

 
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Here I am placing the upturned bottle into a carafe. Any stable container will do it's just what's on hand. You can't see it with this picture but the particulate matter (hops residue) is on the bottom (now the top) of the bottle.

The vodka will start dripping right away so the first liquid is the best quality. The point that you pour off the dripping vodka into another container is wholly up to you. The mixture is 50-50 so I guess the first 50% is vodka but I think I use the first 40% for my hop vodka. The other 60% I use for a lesser quality brew. What I generally do with the "Hop Water" is dump it into a keg of beer that is half gone to fortify it? It could be used in the same manner that the good stuff is used, but in more quantity. You could dump it into a primary or secondary fermenter? Let your imagination be your guide with the hop water!

 
hop vodka13 Here you can see the first run off. The gunk is on the bottom (now top) of the bottle. The water is still frozen in the bottle with a little yellow hops liquid near the bottom (was top). As the vodka works it's way down you can see a yellow line slowly working it's way down the neck of the bottle.
 
hop vodka14 Keep on thawing the ice to extract all the goodness. You can keep this up until the gunk gets close to falling out of the bottle. I don't press my luck I stop before then.
 
hop vodka15 This is about where I stop. I have a cup of the "Good Stuff" and some "Hop Water"
 
hop vodka16 This "Hop Water" is a little cloudy but even at this stage it will work to flavor a secondary something like dry hopping. I must admit too sitting in the backyard with the hop water and just adding it to my beers that day. The ratio of hop water to beer is your decision. I like hops but sometimes I use just enough to turn a boring beer into a exciting beer!
 
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This is the good stuff going into my cleaned bottle. It only takes a little so don't overdo it. A shot glass would be way to much. Try it in stages. A little goes a long way. It's a lot of fooling around to get a little amount of  "Hoppiness". If you take the bottle up to your nose to smell it you will be disappointed. The scent doesn't travel up the bottle neck well. If you drink it straight up (Yokes!) It will not kill you but it may dull your taste buds a little! Lets be honest. "Your not a real man until you try some" You know you are going to do it! So do it and get it over and done with.

Extracting the aromas and fragrances of hops will enlighten and arm you with knowledge that may help in designing a beer. Or, You use it too much and do something stupid and ruin your life and the lives of everybody you know! The choice is yours!

 
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So there you have it! Hop Vodka. I tend to use Amarillo hops because I just love the stuff. I brew an All Amarillo Ale and dry hop (wet hop?) it with Amarillo hop water. Remember that the vodka adds into what you are drinking so be careful and drink in moderation. My home office is named moderation so "I drink in moderation".

Pardon my poor style of writing and wordology? Questions? bob@stempski.com

                 BobBrews also known as Bob Stempski

 
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