Aging Hops Now For Coolships Later

In the rafters and tucked away in various spots throughout the Embrace The Funk cellar in Nashville, Tennessee there are burlap bags of hops, aging away through the passage of time, waiting to be dropped into a coolship or used in a saison.

For Brandon Jones, the brewer behind Embrace The Funk, which is part of Yazoo Brewing Co., the call of aged whole cone hops is answering tradition and following the footsteps of brewers who have been letting whole cones dry out for centuries, imparting lovely and nuanced flavors into beers.

Any brewer can age hops, and for those using a coolship it is a must. There are a few steps to follow, says Jones. Most are easy to do, and patience is key.

“We started collecting hops years ago,” he says. “I have some crops from 2009 and 2011 here in the cellar. Saaz, Fuggles, and EKG mostly. I have some aged Crystal too, those are about 5 years old.”

Oxygen is key to the development of aged hops. Any hops that come in for aging are removed from mylar bags and transferred into the burlap sacks to allow for oxygen to move around freely. Dry storage areas without extreme heat or humidity are important as well.

Jones has aged pellets but has found that the density prevents oxygen from impacting them as much as whole cone.

When it comes to coolship beers European varieties with low alpha acids tend to do better in the beers, than some American varieties where citrus tones are overly present. To account for the cheesy, parmesan aroma that can come from aged hops Jones opts for a long boil, upwards of three hours, which removes those flavors and often creates “earthy pepper or grape bubble gum” aromas.

Coolships are great for a brewery to have and evoke a different era of beer and bring a true flavor of place to the glass. Having the right ingredients is key, so tucking hops away now can mean brewing a truly spectacular beer years from now.

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