Hops come in a few different formats in brewing.
The hop cones are taken directly off the hop vine and used in beer without being processed. typically only done during or just after the hop harvest.
Hop cones are dried and sealed whole for then using in beer. Since these are whole cones these typically have more plant matter which can soak up more wort, and since they are not mixed and processed together, the alpha acid concentration, flavour and aroma can be a little more variable between lots.
Pellet hops are produced by grinding up the dried whole hop cones and pressing them into pellets.
- Type-90 (T90) & Type-45(T45): The “T” in T90 and T45 pellets is an abbreviation for “Type,” and the general designation relates the weight of the pellet to the whole hops coming into the process. One pound of whole-cone hops yields about 0.9 pounds (0.4 kg) of pellets in the case of T90 pellets, and 0.45 pound (0.2 kg) of pellets in the case of T45 pellets. At first glance, it seems that the process used to make T45 pellets is only half as efficient as the T90 process, but when the alpha acid content is evaluated the difference has nothing to do with inefficiency; T45 pellets contain about double the alpha acids from the same cone hops as theT90 pellets.
Hop pellets are produced from kiln-dried, whole leaf hop cones which have been hammer-milled into a uniform powder to achieve a consistent density for repeatable brewing, batch after batch. Production processes are designed to protect and preserve hop resins by continually monitoring temperature and cooling the pellet die. Hop pellets retain all of their natural lupulin and cone material and can be used as a full replacement for whole hops having a longer shelf life, requiring less storage space, and generally being easier to handle.
- Lupulin powder/cryo: Whole cones are subjected to liquid nitrogen temperature to separate the lupulin gland from the cone and this is pelletised resulting in a product with roughly double the alpha acid and essential oil content as T90 pallets.
- American Noble Hops: A byproduct of the cryo/lupulin powder process. The pellets are designed to share traditional noble hop variety characteristics, including high aromatics and low alpha acids, while retaining regional hop characteristics.