May 24, 2011

Amarillo Slim

In case you haven't heard, there is a bit of a hop shortage going on for some of the most popular American varieties. Some of the newer varieties that craft breweries and homebrewers love so much, like Amarillo, Simcoe, Ahtanum, and Citra, simply didn't have enough acreage to meet demand this year. Here at Northern Brewer we decided to look into an alternate source of hoppy goodness: Amarillo HopShots.

HopShots are extracted hop resin that functions in basically the same way as normal pellet or leaf hops. Just add them to the start of the boil for a bittering addition or towards the end for aroma and flavor. Many commercial breweries like using hop extract because it makes filtering out of the boil kettle a lot easier. This is increasingly important when you're making something like an double IPA, where the massive amount of hops can lead to clogging issues and/or significant volume loss of wort.

To test our new Amarillo HopShot we decided to brew an all-HopShot batch of American Pale Ale. We kept the recipe simple to really bring out the bittering and flavor qualities of the hop extract. Here is the recipe, which we dubbed "Amarillo Slim":

  • 6 lbs Northern Brewer Gold Malt Syrup
  • 1 lb Briess Golden Light DME
  • 1 lb Briess Caramel 20L
  • 3.5 ml Amarillo HopShot First Wort Hop
  • 6.5 ml Amarillo HopShot at the end of the boil

Pitched on to 1/2 of a 1st generation yeast cake of US-05.

The HopShot is easy to measure as it comes in a graduated syringe. One thing I learned from this brew session is that you really need some good boiling action to fully dissolve the hop extract. It is very resinous and not very soluble in room temp water. That flameout addition provided some very nice aroma and flavor, but also left a sticky residue in the fermentor.

I had a few people who love using Amarillo hops try this beer and they all gave it favorable reviews. It definitely has that characteristic Amarillo flavor, but perhaps slightly less earthy and more fruity than normal. The bitterness was very smooth and pleasing, perhaps even smoother than with pellet hops. In conclusion, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Amarillo hopshot to anyone, I found it to be an excellent substitute for the pellets.


  1. This looks interesting. I wonder if they store well longer term; it would be a good way to have a library on-hand without having to rush to use it all up. How many mL of extract is in each syringe / how many ounces of pellets is would one syringe replace?

  2. I've used hopshots for over two years now (Only as bittering additions) Since I didn't know the origin of the hop extract. Now I can get specific hops I can do first wort hopping without worry! This is the perfect reason to order and get a free bottle carrier. :)
    @Mattox they keep what seems like forever, don't quote me on it, but I would assume the sealed syringe wouldn't lose any AA or flavor.

  3. @Mattox if you check out the product page that is linked to, it goes into detail on how to calculate IBU contributions. It also says the each syringe has 5 ml, which is about equal to .9 oz of pellets for aroma additions. I have no idea about the shelf life, but like Brett I would assume that it is a long time.

  4. These look pretty good. I would like to have something like this around so I could brew a beer on a whim rather than having whole leaf hops around.

    I think these hopshots would be good for beers that use a lot of bittering hops proportionally, to avoid any vegetal off flavours.