Whether they’re imparting notes of grapefruit, pine, mango, melon or otherwise, the hops that flavor a beer usually arrive at a brewery in one of three forms: as cones, plucked from the vine and unmolested save some light kilning; as liquid extract composed of pure bittering acids or aromatic oils; or as small pellets created by grinding and mashing whole cones. That third format is the most common, but it’s also messy; hops are sticky and tend to gum up the machinery used to pulverize them. Usually the resiny residue—or “hash,” as it’s come to be known—is scraped off and added back into the stream to become more pellets, but it also has intriguing brewing potential.
“It gives you a huge blast of aroma and this sticky, oily mouthfeel,” says Zak Schroerlucke of Crosby Hops, which produces and sells the hash. “It’s basically a double-dose of whatever hop you’re pelletizing.”
While each round of hop processing results in a very small amount of hash, there’s enough to go around that Caldera Brewing Co. in Ashland, Oregon, has been regularly adding the stuff to its Hop Hash IPA since 2011. Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing Co. now uses it in two beers: its year-round Hash Session IPA and its seasonal brown ale—called, of course, Hash Brown.