Calling all hopheads out there! Have you ever craved the Ultimate hophead experience? Well, I have it here for you. I have made a hop infused vodka with my homegrown glacier hops that you can spruce up almost anything to fit your hophead needs….even a full on hop martini. The process is simple, and the possibilities are endless.
The process is very simple, you just take hops and place them in a vessel, say a mason jar. Then fill it 1/2 full (or more. I did about 3/4 full) then let it sit for 4 days or more (I did four days). The hops will absorb some vodka, so you may need to add vodka throughout the process if you used a lot of hops. What I also did, was every day I gently shook the jar to help bring out more hop goodness. I don’t have any scientific evidence on if it dissolves more lupulin, but hey, it worked for me. What you see in the picture was 4 days of infusing glacier hops in the Vodka. From there, I strained off the vodka and placed the hops in a strainer. I gently squeezed the hops to extract more liquid, but I did not wring them out. I wanted mostly lupulin and not so much of the leafy matter that I would get if I abused the cones too much. I took it to my homebrew club for evaluation, and we all agree, there is a ton of hop flavor and aroma dissolved in that Vodka. For me, the first two swallows are bit harsh, but after that, its smooth sailing.
Some will say the type of vodka you choose really doesn’t make a difference, but I disagree. If you use a cheap vodka that you have to mix with something to taste good, you probably will still end up with vodka infusion you really are not happy with. My favorite vodka by far is Tito’s Handmade Vodka. It is relatively inexpensive ($16.95 for 750ml here where I live), fairly easy to find, and is a top-notch vodka you can easily drink straight. To me, it’s the perfect vodka for this task. But you can use whatever you want.
So what can you do with it? Well, obviously you can have a hoptini of any type, you can use this either straight like I did or find something sweet to mix it with. You could serve some hop shots with this for some hophead fun. But you can also use this to hop flavor to marinades, or other aspects of cooking. You can also make small batches to test the characteristics of different hops compared to each other. This would be an excellent tool for training your palate for judging. The last think I am going to mention is adding hop character to an underhopped beer. Let’s say you brewed a beer that just seems a bit bland to you. You can add this homemade hop extract to not only add a bit of bitterness, but mostly hop flavor and aroma to your brew. I have tested this with beer poured into a glass and adding a small amount of this hop extract to it. It works. I don’t know exactly how to measure up for a 5 gallon batch, but it could be done. The amount of alcohol you are adding is minimal. You have to think that Vodka is only 40% abv, so just under half of whatever you add is contributing to the alcohol content of the brew. As a side note, I have taken an American Pale Ale and added a teaspoon of hopped vodka to it and entered in in Competition. The one beer I entered like this did end up taking a 1st place in the IPA category. So it is a viable way to pop a bit more hop character into a beer.