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Hops or hop extract


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Ive heard of a few if the big whiskey distilleries adding hop extract to their mash before fermentation. There are a few different reasons ive heard its done. (reduces potential for infection, flavor enhancement, ph adjustment)

 Any one out there encountered this or tried it?

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I've heard of it, no direct experience.  I believe a sales-rep posted on this forum a while back.  According to the manufacturer's website https://betatechopproducts.com/spirits/ these extracts are non-volatile and do not make it thru the still.  My understanding is that these extracts are not the regular hop oil that a brewer might use but some specific compounds isolated to target bacteria (lacto, pedio, etc.). 

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  • 1 month later...

My brewing tech background may come of use here -

There are numerous compounds in hops that add to flavor and aroma.  The main bittering compounds - humulones and beta-lupulones are IMO very unlikely to make it through the still, and as Bluestar says are very likely to foul the plates with gummy residues.  However hops also provide esters, and an array of aromatic iso-prenoid compounds that are more likely to pass distillation, but not necessarily likely to re-condense as say 30C.


You can separately buy hops bittering and hops aroma extracts.  The most complete extractions is performed using liquid CO2.   I'd *consider* adding these extracts after distillation, not before.


There have been claims for decades that hopping wort protects against lacto-bacillus infection, but the evidence is scant, and the effect is at most partial protection.



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Good question, whether the humulones themselves are coming across in the distillation. Actually, I would presume they would at some point: while they do not boil under BP of water, they can be steam distilled (hydrosol), because of their poor water solubility. Similar to the oils when making absinthe or gin. They prefer to be carried across in dilution in higher-concentration alcoholic vapor than remain in lower proof pot boil. The question becomes when they come across, if somewhere in the hearts, or later in the tails, as defined by the barley flavors. Our experience is the former, but that can also depend on the type of still and operating parameters.


By the way, they "gum up" the column, because unlike the oils in other distillates, they are solids at even elevated temperatures (150F), which is below the typical operating column temperature, but not so far below to avoid trapping the "gum" on cooling walls, dephlegmater, etc.

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Humulones (the family of alpha acids) have meltng pt ~65C(150F) and boiling point around 550C(1020F) and effectively nil vapor pressure.  They aren't going to vapor-distill at all,. Likewise steam distillation (hydrosol) of humulones should be nearly nil.  Any that make it up the still are 'sputtered' there.  Also they are not very soluble in water (some of the isomers formed in heating are a bit more soluble than the natural form; like ~100ppm vs ~5ppm).   FWIW it's well know that early hop additions boil-off the flowery ester&isoprenoid compounds, but the bitterness (humulones, lupulones) remains and actually increases as the boil isomerise the alpha-acids.  Brewers make late hop additions and use hop-backs or even dry hopping to regain the hop aroma.

I *suspect* much of the gumminess comes from the isoprenoid compounds and esters of short-chain fatty acids - which are abundant in hop flowers.  But that sputtered goo isn't unlikely in the lower column.

So you have a good idea w/ the gin basket.  that's probably the correct place to introduce hops if you want bitterness..  humulones are pretty soluble in ethanol.  *But* the attractively bitter humulones vs the coarser tasting lupulones are selectively extracted based on low pH in beer/wort.  No such condition in the hot distillate stream.

Another alternative to to dry-hop in the tank/barrel !

Personally I would't put hops into a still I liked, but that's me.

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