How Odell Decided to Grind Away at Hop Innovation

Looking to get the most out of the entire hop, a new machine, numerous tweaks, lots of extra time and work in the brewhouse led to the creation of a new way to present hops for Odell Brewing.

Rupture, being marketed as a “Fresh Grind Ale” with the labeling showing whole hop cones being shredded by a hammer mill, is a hop-forward ale that used a unique technique cooked up by the Odell crew. They hope to have hops bursting through in an innovative way to present a beer. Rupture introduced a process where whole-flower hops are ground up on-site at the brewery moments before they’re added to the beer.

Lupulin powder, or “Cryo”, is processed differently than the fresh grind Odell produces at the brewery noted Eli Kolodny, the Technical Director for Odell.

“The biggest advantage for us is we can create the fresh grind and use it within hours. Limiting potential oxidation and packaging waste,” he said.

As far as cost effectiveness goes, it’s not very. effective at all he added.

“It takes about six hours all said and done for one ‘batch’ of Rupture, compared to maybe 30 minutes if we used pellets,” he said. “The loss from grinding whole flower is also significant, not to mention the investment in equipment and floor space.”

He did note that owning the equipment has been critical for fine tuning the process.

“It gives us more control over what we grind and how we create the fresh grind,” Kolodny said. “The yields from the fermentation into packaging started out almost comically low, but have been getting better with every batch. We like to think it produces some unique flavor and aroma components, so hopefully our fans agree the extra work is worth it.”

Odell is still working on finalizing those “like for like” comparisons of how much of the hops goes into each batch, as well as figuring utilization. Having said that, Kolodny did say that they need less fresh grind hops to get a similar character from pellets. Just like fresh ground coffee beans make for a more complex cup of coffee. Rupture applies those same principles to hops. Timing means everything.

“It’s important to note that the character is so resinous from the fresh grind that it’s difficult to lay out a simplified comparison,” he said.

To achieve this unique flavor profile, Odell installed a custom-built hammer mill at the brewery, a piece of equipment that’s typically only operated by hop merchants.

“If you’ve ever been around that process, the aroma is staggeringly intense,” Kolodny said.

An experiment so far, Odell won’t be jumping to switch over any beers to this process any time soon because of all the inefficiencies.

“Also, the profile for our established beers, is just that, established,” Kolodny pointed out. “So a major change like that would likely do more harm than good. We are constantly working on limiting inefficiencies brewery wide as co-owners, but it would probably be best to limit the fresh grind to new beers.”

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