Bull & Bush offering tableside whole-hop infusions with any of its beers

Categories: Beer Man

Bull&BushInfused2.jpg
Jonathan Shikes
Erik Peterson talks hops at Bull & Bush.
Do you like hops? Hate them? Do you know what they look like, smell like, feel like?

The Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery will elevate hops appreciation today by carrying mugfuls of beer's most-loved ingredient right to the table and allowing customers to experiment with its subtleties and its power on their own.

Here's how it works: Order any Bull & Bush beer on tap and then pick one of five hops varietals grown by Jack Rabbit Hill Hops in the Western Slope town of Hotchkiss. The beer will be served in a French press with the crumbled hops cones added. The customer can then choose how long to wait before pouring the beer and tasting the effect.

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Pouring hops into the Inciter 3000.
A one-minute wait will add a bit of hops flavoring, depending on the beer. Three minutes will infuse a significant amount, and five minutes will give you an eye-opening hop wallop. Wait ten minutes or longer and the plant adds a peppery taste and feel that will burn the back of your throat -- in a good way, at least if you're true hophead.

"You'll be able to dial in how hoppy or how bitter or how much aroma you want. There's a huge difference between three and five minutes," says Erik Peterson, who owns Bull & Bush with his brother, Dave. The idea is similar to what brewers do when they add hops infusions to a beer after it has been brewed to give it a different flavor. The process, called dry-hopping, is common, but also expensive and time-consuming.

Bull & Bush is calling the process the Whole Hop Infusion -- and they'd better Trademark it because other places around the country are bound to follow suit. In Denver, Table 6 has already agreed to start offering Whole Hop Infusions with Bull & Bush beers, which has on tap, come February.

Peterson got the idea a few weeks ago when he was trying to think of something new to do with a bunch of whole hops he'd bought from Jack Rabbit Hill. He wanted to use them to dry-hop one of the beer Bull & Bush brews, but didn't have a way to strain out the hops cones afterward. Most beers are brewed using hops pellets, a ground and compressed form of hops that dissolve in the beer when it is brewed.

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Getting hopped up at Bull & Bush.
It's an idea that wouldn't have worked five years ago -- or even two years ago. But the innovative concept is the perfect way to show off the maturation of the craft beer scene in Denver, where the culture of beer and beer drinking has finally come of age.

Bull & Bush has three kinds of hops ready: Cascade, Chinook and Crystal, and will have another two, Nugget and Northern Brewer, soon. All five types were grown in Colorado by Jack Rabbit Hill, an organic farm that also makes Jack Rabbit Hill wines. Down the road, Peterson plans to add other varieties as monthly specials.

Cascade is a standard in West Coast-style IPAs, imparting a strong floral aroma and notes of spice, citrus and grapefruit. Chinook, another common IPA variety, has a grassy, smoky character. Crystal gives off an almost tropical, coconut-like flavor.

And the different varieties do indeed have a dramatic effect on the taste of the beer, depending on which kind of hops you use and how long you wait.

Customers can order either a twenty-ounce beer for $8 or a forty-ounce pour for $15; either way, about a pint glass's worth of hops will be added to the French press, which Peterson has dramatically named the Hop Inciter 3000.

"It's educational," says Peterson, who has tried out the hop infusions on a couple of groups of people. "People who have no idea what hops are or what they smell like or what they look like can put it all together when they have a beer."

Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan
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Location Info

Bull & Bush Pub & Brewery

4700 Cherry Creek Drive S., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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12 comments
guest
guest

So I tried this and it does at flavor, albeit acidic, and Jon S is correct, it drastically affects carbonation, as in, its a flat beer after 5 minutes.  I guess they didn't do it right in the recipies.  But great way to increase revenue.  Also, I found out I am not a fan of their beer with or without gimmicky shlocking.

Arp2220
Arp2220

Pellet hops dissolve?  Then why have I been scraping them out of the bottom of my brew kettles for years before buying hops bags to put them in and take them out full?  I need to find me some of those there dissoving ones (sarcasm).  And to agree with ericmsteen, Crazy Mtn in Eagle has been doing this for quite a while so hopefully no one trademarks this, that's like trademarking adding flavored syrups to espresso, not sure that could be done but I'm not too up on my patent law.

NorCalAngler
NorCalAngler

That is a crazy amount of hops in a small glass of beer!  Homebrewers typically dry hop with 1-2oz per five gallons for about a week.  I'd love to try it.

ericmsteen
ericmsteen

Crazy Mountain Brewing has been doing this for a couple years. You can order what looks to be about 36 or so ounce french press the way you would order a pitcher. I can't remember how long they soaked their hops, but it was about 1-2oz for 10 or so minutes. The result is absolutely beautiful, the beer came out clear and did not mess with the carbonation. I was very impressed with it. I just wanted to point this out so that no one claims that Bull and Bush was doing it first.

http://www.focusonthebeer.com/...http://www.focusonthebeer.com/...

Jon S
Jon S

This is a pretty interesting idea that I'd like to try. However, there are a couple items to note.:

1. Looking at the pictures, this is going to lead to a pretty big loss of carbonation in the press, so the beer will likely get kinda flat.

2. This method will not add any bitterness (IBUs) to the beer. Hops must be boiled to extract alpha acids. It will however add more hop flavor and aroma. I'd like to try it to find out how much, since usually the hops need to be in contact for a while to add much flavor/aroma during dry hopping. But with a lot of hops in there, and assuming you drink it fairly quickly, it could be a nice kick.

3. And like Dave, I'm hoping the screen in the press is enough to keep the broken up hop bits out.

Dave Butler
Dave Butler

Love this concept. I'd think that this might tend to get pricey particularly during times when hop shortages are happening (like a couple years ago).  Hopefully these containers won't break let the hops loose.  Would hate to get a mouthful of chunks in the brew.

Jan C.
Jan C.

Dogfish has essentially been doing this with their Randall for years now. This is still a cool way to add some ibu's to your brew.

Jennifer Cadmus
Jennifer Cadmus

They tested the process many ways to make sure the concerns you state above are addressed. Haven't had any issues with floaters so far and 5 minutes can pack quite an hoppy punch!

NorCalAngler
NorCalAngler

Nitpicking here, but dry hopping doesn't increase the IBU.  You have to boil the hops to extract the bitterness from the hops. Dry hopping will only add aroma and the perception of flavor due to the increased aroma.

Stu as "Stu"
Stu as "Stu"

perceived bitterness and IBU are such different things... try eating a hop cone and then tell me there is no bitterness without boil.

Kartoffelmeister
Kartoffelmeister

The oils make it into the beer non-isomerized and then it's sort of like oil and vinegar. Since it's so fresh the oils don't have time to evaporate off so it will taste more bitter. That's why your IPAs don't stay fresh long. Those non-isomerized oils do funny things with time.

Jon S
Jon S

If you eat the actual hop cone you are eating the oils, so of course it would be bitter. NorCalAngler is correct. If you don't boil (or steep at near boiling temps) the hops the alpha acids from the hops won't transfer to the beer, and the bitterness will not increase.

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