10 Years Ago: Hunt’s Hop Tea

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It’s hard to believe the Bulletin has been going for over ten years, just over eleven to be exact (not including on the family blog from a couple of years before that). But this post is from exactly ten years ago, in 2007, and I was reminded of it yesterday when a homebrew blogger linked to it in a discussion of hop utilization. Anyway, it was interesting to see again, and since it was exactly a decade, I thought I’d post Hunt’s Hop Tea again. It is, coincidentally, National Hot Tea Day today. Enjoy.


A few weeks ago while helping Moonlight with their hop harvest, owner/brewer Brian Hunt broke out something I’d never seen before: hop tea. Now I’ve seen regular hop tea before, I’ve even bought some at the health food store and tried it, but this was something totally different. Brian told me the idea grew out of an experiment he was doing to see how hops reacted at different temperatures, which he presented at “Hop School” a few years ago. He discovered in the process that he could make a delicious hop tea and that it varied widely depending on the temperature of the water. Here’s how it works:

  1. Put approximately two-dozen fresh hop cones in a 16 oz. mason jar.
  2. Heat water to __X__ temperature.
  3. Fill jar with heated water and seal cap.
  4. Let the water come down to ambient room temperature.
  5. Refrigerate.
  6. Drink.

There appears to be four main factors that change depending on the temperature of the water. These are:

  1. Color
  2. Float
  3. Bitterness
  4. Tannins

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Intrigued by all of this and quite curious, Brian brought out seven examples of his hop tea made with water of different temperatures: 60°, 120°, 130°, 140°, 160°, 180° and 185°. They’re shown above from lower to higher temperature, left to right.

As you can see, the lower the temperature, the more green the hops are and the water remains less cloudy. At the higher temperatures, the hops are stripped of their green, becoming brown, and the water also becomes more brown. Also, as the temperature increases, the hops lose their buoyancy and begin to sink in the water. Although you can’t see it in the photo, the hotter the water, the more hop bitterness and at the upper range, tannins begin to emerge. Here’s what I found:

  • 60°: Fresh, herbal aromas with some hop flavors, but it’s light.
  • 120°: Bigger aromas, less green more vegetal flavors.
  • 130°: Also big aromas emerging, flavors beginning to become stronger, too, but still refreshingly light.
  • 140°: More pickled, vinegary aroma, no longer subtle with biting hop character and strong flavors.
  • 160°: Very big hop aromas with strong hop flavors, too, with a touch of sweetness. Tannins are becoming evident but are still restrained.
  • 180°: Big hop and vinegary aromas, with flavors becoming too astringent and tannins becoming overpowering.
  • 185°: Vinegary aromas, way too bitter and tannins still overpowering.

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Trying each of the tea samples with Tim Clifford, now owner of Sante Adairius.

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Brian was kind enough to let me take a small bag of fresh hops with me so I could recreate his experiment at home. I had enough for four samples and made tea at 100°, 140° and 160°. Using two dozen hop cones made the jars look light so I used three-dozen in the last jar, also using 160° water. I tasted them with my wife, hoping to get a civilian opinion, too. Here’s what we found:

  • 100°: Hops still green and floating. The nose was very vegetal and reminded my wife of the water leftover in the pot after you’ve steamed vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. The mouthfeel is somewhat gritty with light, refreshing flavors and only a little bitterness, which dissipates quickly.
  • 140°: Hops turned brown, but still floating. Light hop aromas with some smokey, roasted aromas and even a hint of caramel. Fresh hop flavors with a clean finish. My wife, however, made that puckering bitter face signaling she found it repugnant.
  • 160°: Hops turned brown, but most has sunk to the bottom of the jar. Strong hop aromas and few negatives, at least from my point of view. My wife was still making that face, cursing me for dragging her into this. Hop bitterness had become more pronounced and tannins were now evident, with a lingering finish.
  • 160° Plus: This sample had 50% more hops. The hops had also turned brown but, curiously, they were still floating. The nose was vegetal with string hop aromas. With a gritty mouthfeel, the flavors were even more bitter covering the tannins just slightly, but they were still apparent, and the finish lingered bitterly.

It seems like either 140° or 160° is the right temperature. Lower than that and you don’t get enough hop character (I’m sure that’s why the hops remain green) but above that the tannins become too pronounced. It appears you have to already like big hop flavor or you’ll hate hop tea. I found it pretty enjoyable and even refreshing though it’s still probably best in small amounts. You do seem to catch a little buzz off of it, which doesn’t hurt. I’m sure the amount of hops is important and more research may be needed on that front. Brian tells me that hop pellets can also be used though I doubt the jar of tea looks as attractive using them. They have the advantage of being available year-round, of course. If you use pellets, you need only about a half-ounce for each pint jar.

If you try to make Hunt’s Hop Tea on your own, please let me know your results. And please do raise a toast to Brian Hunt’s ingenuity.

Beer Birthday: Daniel Del Grande

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Today is the 48th birthday of Daniel Del Grande, brewer and co-owner of Bison Brewing. I’ve known Dan a lot of years, since shortly after he bought Berkeley’s Bison Brewery in 1997. Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing rumors that he’s closed Bison, but there’s nothing definitive I’ve seen, and I haven’t run into Dan recently, so I’m none too sure. He’s been leading the charge for organic beer and makes some of the best organic beers anywhere. He also teaches at the American Brewers Guild, and spoke at my SSU class, as well. Join me in wishing Dan a very happy birthday.

Dan Del Grande from Bison Brewing
Dan at the 99 Bottles of Beer Symposium at the Hearst Museum in 2009.

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Sean Paxton, the Homebrew Chef, with Dan at Rodger Davis’ 40th birthday party.

George Allen, Dan Del Grande & Mark Cabrera from Bison Brewing
George Allen, Dan and Mark Cabrera at GABF 2009.

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Ralph Olson from HopUnion with Dan and Peter Hoey, when he was still with Bison Brewing, in 2006, the year Bison won a Gold medal for their Organic Farmhouse Ale.

Beer Birthday: Denise Jones

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Today is the birthday of Denise Jones, longtime brewer in the Bay Area. Until last year, Denise had started with a new brewery, Napa Point Brewing before it closed, but brewed for long stints at Moylan’s and Third Street Aleworks, among others. More recently she’s moved to Bamberg, Germany and is working with Weyermann. She’s a very talented brewer, and makes especially great stouts. Join me in wishing Denise a very happy birthday.

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With Ralph Woodall of HopUnion at GABF in 2006.

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Shane Aldrich and Arne Johnson, from Marin Brewing, Brendan Moylan, who owns both, and Denise, along with Jim Grbac, from Molyan’s Brewing after the award ceremonies at GABF in 2007.

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Denise with Brendan Moylan and Mark Worona, from Brewers Supply Group, at Tcho Chocolate in 2012 after a chocolate beer competition during CBC (which Denise won).

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With Alec Moss at the Triple Rock Firkin Fest in 2009.

Beer Birthday: Nicole Erny

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Today is the 33rd birthday of Nicole Erny, a certified Master Cicerone and passionate beer lover, who used to work at The Trappist and as a “Beer Ambassador” at the CommonWealth Cafe & Public House, both in beautiful downtown Oakland. She also used to work with Ray Daniels’ Cicerone program, but recently left that position for her next adventure. Nicole and I almost worked together on a great-sounding beer project, but alas it fell apart, and she’s got plans afoot. She’s a great advocate for better beer and has more energy than any three people I know. Join me in wishing Nicole a very happy birthday.

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Rodger Davis, Nicole and Claudia Davis at Triple Rock’s Sourfest during SF Beer Week in 2010.

Dan Shelton & Nicole Erny
Dan Shelton and Nicole during GABF in 2009.

Nicole Erny & Matt Brynildson Toasting the End of GABF Week
Toasting the End of GABF Week with Matt Brynildson at the Falling Rock in 2009.

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A great shot for Nathan Smith and Nicole’s Beer School at The Trappist several years ago. (photo “borrowed” from Jon Weber’s Beer Obsessed, in the hopes he won’t mind.)

Beer Birthday: Phil Cutti

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Today is the birthday of Phil Cutti, co-founder, president and brewmaster of Headlands Brewing in Marin County. Phil spent most of his adult life as an Exercise Physiologist and extreme athlete. Needing something to do to relax, he took up homebrewing, and then the homebrewing took him. In addition to doing the brewing at Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cooking, he’s been making the beer at Headlands since they opened. Join me in wishing Phil a very happy birthday.

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After winning bronze at GABF in 2015.

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Phil, Patrick Horn and Inna Volynskaya of Headlands Brewing, in a press photo by the brewery.

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Phil ready for his close-up at the Toronado San Diego during San Diego Beer Week last year.

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The Headlands crew during their first trip to GABF in 2013. Photo stolen from Brian Stechschulte. Hopefully he’ll let it slide in the spirit of the holdays.

Beer Birthday: Craig Cauwels

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Today is the 50th birthday of Craig Cauwels, who started brewing at Schooner’s in 2003, when his longtime friend Shawn Burns needed his help, and he continuing brewing there until after Burns sold the brewpub to a new owner. For a time, he was also brewing at E.J. Phair brewing, and even went back to brewing at Schooner’s part-time, splitting his time between the two East Bay breweries. More recently, Schooner’s has a new owner, who shut down the brewpub, but moved the equipment to a production space in Tracy, and is rebranding the brewery as Morgan Territory, which Craig doing all of the brewing. They even brought home their first medal from GABF this year, for a beer Craig made at Schooner’s but under the Morgan Territory name since the BA allowed them to enter under the new name even though they haven’t opened yet, which is pretty cool. Originally a molecular biologist, Craig was running the core lab facility at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University when he gave it all up to become a professional brewer. And that’s certainly been good news for people who love great beer, because he’s a very talented brewer. Join me in wishing Craig a very happy birthday.

Craig Cauwels, from Schooner's, with Vic Krajl
Craig with Vic Krajl at the 2009 Bistro Barrel Aged Fest.

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Craig with Sam Calagione (from Dogfish Head) and Dave McLean (from Magnolia’s) at the Double IPA Festival at the Bistro a couple of years ago.

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Craig with Steve Altimari, from High Water Brewing at the Celebrator’s 18th anniversary party in 2007.

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Craig with Brian Yaeger, the Beer Chef Bruce Paton and me at a Schooner’s beer dinner at Cathedral Hotel in 2008.

Benefit For Pete’s Sake At Spartan Stadium In San Jose

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You may not have heard the name of Peter Cogan. He’s not a household name, not a rock star brewer and does not make a point of making sure people know who he is. He just does his job, and makes things happen. Born in England, Peter has been helping promote the beer scene in the South Bay as long as anybody can remember and has been working for Hermitage Brewing and the Tied House in Mountain View since 1990. He also helped launch the beerfest there, one of the biggest and most important early Bay Area beer festivals.

Peter Cogan, from the Tied House
Peter Cogan in 2009.

So what does that have to do with a beer festival on November 19 called “For Pete’s Sake?” Well, recently Peter was diagnosed with cancer, specifically lymphoma, and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment to beat back his cancer. For Pete’s Sake is a benefit to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and also for Peter. Take my word for it, Peter is a great person and if there’s any stranger you help this year, let it be him. But besides a great cause, it should be a great time, too.

Microsoft Word - FB16, Craft Beer Fest, Web Page Layout.docx

Your ticket includes admission to see the San Jose Spartans play Air Force in college football, plus a beer festival with unlimited samples from at least twenty local breweries. This all takes place on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at Spartan Stadium, located at 1257 South 7th Street, CEFCU Stadium, in San Jose. The brewfest starts and 2:30 PM and lasts for four hours, until 6:30 PM. Then at 7:30 PM, the game kicks off, and you’ll have a seat on the 50 to 30 yard line. Tickets are $40 in advance, and $50 on the day of the event. Tickets are available online. Use the promo code “FORPETESSAKE2016.” Visit the For Pete’s Sake Brewfest webpage for all of the details.

So even if you’ve never met Peter, if you’ve ever enjoyed a craft beer in the Bay Area, you probably owe him at least a small debt of gratitude. And what better way to thank him then to attend a beer festival and drink some more beer and have a great time. Is that too much to ask? Let’s all help Peter beat cancer.

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Peter, with Steve Donohue, now with Santa Clara Valley Brewing, at the 21st Celebrator Anniversary Party.

Beer Birthday: Bill Millar

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Today is the 74th birthday of Bill Millar, who founded the San Andreas Brewing Co. in Hollister, California, and he also has the distinction of giving Mitch Steele his first brewing gig. San Andreas was started in 1988, and I visited it not too long thereafter, as I was living not to far away, in San Jose, at the time. I was a big fan of their Cranberry Ale for the holidays, and Bill was kind enough to keg some for me each year, for a few years in the early 90s, for the holiday party that I used to throw. I’d drive down to Hollister to pick it up, and then return the empty keg a few days later. The brewery is closed now, sadly, though I’m not sure when exactly is stopped brewing. Join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.

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Bill with Mitch Steele, at the Bistro IPA Festival in 2007.

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Bill at the CSBA Beer Summit last month.

Beer Birthday: John Tucci

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Today is also the 49th birthday of John Tucci, who until it closed a few years ago, was the brewmaster for the San Francisco Gordon Biersch brewpub. John was one of Gordon Biersch’s best and most senior brewers, and especially with his one-offs that he brewed at that location. He’s also a great champion for beer in San Francisco and was very active with the local brewers guild and SF Beer Week. When the San Francisco location closed, he brewed at their Palo Alto brewpub, but after 16 years, left as he’s getting closer to opening his own new brewery, 47 Hills Brewing, which will be located at 137 South Linden Avenue in South San Francisco. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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John behind the bar pouring some of his beer. (Note: this photo by Winnie Hsu and purloined from Facebook.)

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At the Slow Beer Festival 2008, Ian Marks (from Hog Island Oyster Co.), Taylor Boetticher (from the Fatted Calf), Dave, John and Shaun O’Sullivan (from 21st Amendment).

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John when I visited him last year at the Palo Alto Gordon Biersch.

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Taking delivery of new brewing equipment at 47 Hills.

Beer Birthday: Kushal Hall

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Today is the 33rd birthday of Kushal Hall, former Director of Brewing Operations for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Kushal had been brewing at Speakeasy since 2007, but left in May of this year, and I’m not sure what he’s doing right now. While Kushal studied photography at UC Santa Cruz, I think we can all agree the world is a better place since he became a brewer. A terrific brewer and person, please join me in wishing Kushal a very happy birthday.

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Kushal, second from the left, and the gang from Speakeasy at the opening gala for SF Beer Week in 2013.

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Kush serving his beer at Speakeasy 13th anniversary bash in 2010.

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Kushal as mad scientist (photo by, I believe, Brian Stechschulte).

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Kushal with Betsey and Jesse Friedman at the Anchor Christmas Party in 2012.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]