Let’s start by clearing up the obvious. Cryo Hops are not 'fresh frozen' whole hops. There is such a thing, but that’s a story for another beer. These arrive to the brewhouse the same as regular hops: in pellets. The difference is that during the pellet-making process, “each component of the hop is preserved using low temperatures in a nitrogen-rich environment”. Thank you, Yakima Chief.
Yakima Chief, the kings of US hops – who often take a starring role in BBF beers – define Cryo Hops are “the concentrated lupulin of whole-leaf hops containing resins and aromatic oils.” Basically, only the good stuff. The result is an intense flavour bomb. The hop pellets are that much more concentrated, brewers can use half the amount when using Cryo vs brewing with standard hops, improving yield. More beer for your buck? Not quite, actually...
The price of Cryo Hops is reflected in their stronger tasting powers, so what else is in it for the brewer? This concentrated pellet of aroma goodness provides intense hop flavour, without vegetative material (the bits of the hop plant). Great for DDH (double dry hopping) and getting those big American craft beer flavours in an IPA. Our centrifuge takes care of dropping out the 'bits'.
A popular theory is that Cryo Hops = reduced bitterness, but the truth, as ever, is a little more nuanced. You could still use Cryo Hops in the kettle and get sharp flavours. Probably this misunderstanding stems from the particular hop varieties being processed in Cryo versions. It's the trendy American hops that can be found as Cryo, which give us those massive soft and juicy tropical, citrus and berry notes we see in craft IPAs. Old school hops just don't roll that way.
Back to Hidden Valley. We use two specific Cryo Hops; Citra and Cascade. You may have tried the Cryo versions of these popular hops in our previous beers; we made an all-Cryo version of legendary beer Independence on the 10th anniversary of the first brew, called Indy X. We also use a blend of Cryo Hops, called Cryo Pop (more on that in a minute) in Laser Juice, our new 4.2% session IPA.
Cryo Pop is another beast. A secret(ish) blend of 10 hops formed to make a delicious new blend, Cryo Pop is popular with craft breweries and drinkers alike for giving hints of tangy lychee and sweet coconut. The recipe is adjusted every year depending on the hop harvests, and although the brewers get an in-depth profile of the flavour, the exact blend isn't officially shared (although their experienced pallets can take an educated guess). This special blend enables brewers to make a balanced beer with plenty of flavour. Beers with Cryo Pop are usually very 'pop'ular! We've even used it in new cask special, Disco Park 4.2%.
At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for – to make beers that all sorts of beer drinkers will want to reach for, pint after pint. All hail the Cryo Hop!