Experimenting with Hop Aroma Oils

I’m always looking for new ways to improve the flavour and aroma of my beers. In the quest to create the best beer I can, I stumbled upon Hop Aroma Oil. I’ve been aware of Hop Aroma Oil in the past, it’s just that I’ve never considered using it in my homebrew...until now.

As I was browsing through the Malt Miller online store, I came across a few of the different Hop Oils that they have for sale and the Citra Hop Oil caught my eye in particular. At only £4 per 15 ml bottle it seemed a no brainer to experiment with it. According to the instructions, you only need around 1 ml per 10 litres of beer - which works out quite reasonable in my case because I only brew 5 gallons at a time.

Brewing with Hop Aroma Oils

Using Hop Aroma Oil in brewing is nothing new - many modern breweries have been using Hop Aroma Oil throughout the brewing process for many years. These aroma oils have been developed to provide an efficient means of adding aroma to beer, and are provided as a liquid solution ready for dosing directly into finished beer.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few benefits that Hop Aroma Oils might offer such as consistent performance, an instant flavour impact and some pretty cool flavour and aroma combinations!

I wanted to experiment with Hop Aroma Oil and find out more about its effect on my homebrewing. In order to keep the flavour and aroma as paired back as possible, I only used the Hop Oil in this brew. That’s right - no dry hopping or hops in the boil - just Hop Oil!

The Recipe (BIAB)

My favourite style of beer definitely has to be a Hop forward American style IPA and Citra Hop Oils seemed a good fit for this recipe. The recipe below is for the all-grain Brew in a Bag method, but it can be scaled to suit your needs depending on your setup.

Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Time: 60 mins

Malt Bill

Name Amount
Pilsner Malt 2 Kg
Maris Otter Malt 3 Kg
Vienna Malt 500 g
Munich Malt 500 g

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form
CO2 Hop Extract 4 ml 60 mins Boil CO2 Hop Extract

Dry Hop / "Oil Hop"

Name Amount Time Use Form
Citra Hop Oil 2ml 3 days before Dry Hop Hop Oil
Citra Hop Oil 2ml 1 day before Dry Hop Hop Oil
Citra Hop Oil 2ml During bottling Dry Hop Hop Oil

Yeast

Name Lab Temperature
Mangrove Jacks M44 West Coast Yeast Mangrove Jack 21 Celsius

Let's get brewing

The night before brew day, I measured out my water and filtered it to remove any chlorine, chloramine and other impurities. I'm not that precious with my water, but I do like to remove chlorine at the least. I use a Brita water filter - it does take a while, but it's definitely worth it!

Once my water was up to strike temperature, I measured out the grains and added it to my brew bag.

Crushed grains - Hop Aroma Oils

Brew in a bag - Hop Aroma Oils

I am a big fan of CO2 Hop extract and I have been using it a lot in my homebrews lately. I’ve found that it helps my achieve a consistent level of bitterness in my brews, and it also means less vegetal matter in the boil.

CO2 Hop Extract - Homebrew

If you’ve not heard of CO2 extract before, it is produced from soft hop pellets by supercritical CO2 extraction. If you'd like to learn more about CO2 Hop extract, I've previously written about it on this blog.

For this brew, I added zero hops during the boil. I really wanted to see what effect the hop oil would have on the brew in terms of flavour and taste. I must admit, it definitely made for a less complicated brew day!

After the 60 minutes of boil time was complete, I cooled the wort to around 20 degrees. To keep things nice and simple, I went with Mangrove Jack’s M44 West Coast Ale yeast.

Mangrove Jacks Yeast M44

Even though this was a dry yeast packet, I still made a yeast starter the day before to get things moving as soon as possible.

Yeast Starter - Hop Aroma Oils

My brew day was over and the yeast starter ensured that my wort was bubbling away and I noticed signs of active fermentation within 24 hours.

Dry hopping or Oil hopping

With the airlock bubbling away, I patiently waited for my brew to be ready. I wanted to ensure that this brew really took on the flavours and aroma of the Citra hop oil. I “oil hopped” (see what I did there!) the beer at both 3 and 1 days before bottling with around 2 ml of oil at a time. To be honest, I added more than the recommended amount on the bottle - but I wanted a real fruity punch!

Citra Hop Aroma Oils

I added another 2 ml to the final beer before distributing it out amongst the bottles.

Bottled IPA - Hop Aroma Oils

The final product

When this beer is first poured, the fragrance of fruity Citra hops wafted in the air and hit you immediately. Even my wife (who doesn't like beer) commented positively on the smell.

In terms of the taste of the beer itself, it was a bit meh.....The bitterness tasted great, but the depth of flavours that late hop additions and dry hopping gives you was definitely missing. It has to be said that I was expecting this due to no dry hopping or late hop additions in the kettle, but in my future brews, I am keen to experiment with layering hop oil on top of dry hopping to achieve and even punchier fruitiness!

What are your experiences with Hop Aroma Oils?