I love beer, but there are certain occasions where consuming alcoholic beverages just isn’t in the cards and can even be dangerous or illegal. According to Lagunitas, regular consumption of beer on the job was killing productivity as employees became lethargic and probably still hungover from the previous day. To keep brewers happy satiated yet sober while on the job, they began making non-alcoholic carbonated hop flavored water, a concoction that was spearheaded by homebrewer Paul Tecker in the mid-2000s.
I decided to participate in Dry January this year as a way to refresh my body after a holiday season that involved ample consumption of alcohol. The first day of the month, I hunted down some Lagunitas Hop Hoppy Refresher to quench my thirst for something beery while sticking to my goal. To say I was stunned would be an understatement, this sparkling hop water was not only incredibly tasty, it had a quality about it that made me never want to put the glass down. Simply refreshing!
Before that first four-pack was gone, I knew I’d need to figure out a way to make hop water myself so that I could enjoy it in quantity whenever I felt like it. Choosing to forgo looking up established recipes and methods for this beverage, I took in what the Lagunitas’ Hop Hoppy Refresher tasted like and designed a recipe of my own.
| Making H-brü-O Hop Water |
My first order of business was determining what characteristics I wanted in my hop water, which based on my assessment of Lagunitas’ version including decent acidity, very high carbonation, and no bitterness while possessing obvious hop character. To accomplish, I came up with the following recipe.
H-brü-O Hop Water
5 Gallons/19 liters RO Water
3.35 g Gypsum
1.85 g Calcium Chloride
2.5 mL Lactic Acid (88%)
40 g Amarillo Hops
40 g Citra Hops
40 g Mosaic Hops
To call it a “brew day” would be sort of laughable considering how easy it was, but seeing as I made this hop water while mashing a different beer, I’m comfortable with the terminology. I started off by sanitizing a previously cleaned keg with Starsan solution.
Once emptying the keg of sanitizer, I poured about 4 gallons/15 liters of RO water into the keg then measured out the minerals and added them to the leftover water in order to fully dissolve it.
After adding the mineral solution to the keg, I measured out and added the lactic acid to the water in the keg.
On bottles of Hop Hoppy Refresher, Lagunitas claims it contains brewer’s yeast, and while I couldn’t really taste any yeastiness in the product, I had some nutritional yeast lying around and added a scoop to the keg.
At this point, I sealed the keg and gave it a few shakes to fully incorporate the minerals, acid, and nutritional yeast. When that was done I weighed out all of the hop additions and split them between two stainless mesh filters before tossing them into the homogenized solution.
Noticing there was still some room left in the keg, I added enough RO water to reach the bottom of the gas dip tube. Finally, I placed the filled keg in my keezer and applied 50 psi of CO2 for 24 hours before reducing the gas to serving pressure. In addition to being very nicely carbonated, my h-BRÜ-o hop water had a hue that was rather similar to Lagunitas’ Hop Hoppy Refresher.
| IMPRESSIONS |
Upon my first eager sip of this drink a day after it was made, I found it to be extremely bitter, enough so that I dumped the sample and thought to myself, “what have I done?” However, after a couple more days of conditioning, the bitterness faded entirely and what was left was an incredibly tasty beverage that was surprisingly refreshing.
The hop aroma and flavor in this batch of H-brü-O was absolutely spot-on in my opinion, and while different hop varieties were likely used in Lagunitas’ Hop Hoppy Refresher, the intensity was remarkably similar. I perceive Hop Hoppy Refresher as being slightly more acidic than my H-brü-O, so in my next batch, I’ll add enough lactic acid to get the water down to 4.5 pH, which I think will contribute a bit more crispness. Other than that and using different hop combinations, I’m not going to mess with this recipe too much.
Having the ability to compulsively pull a beverage from my taps whenever I want while still being able to function is pretty awesome, and the fact this H-brü-O hop water tasted as good as it did only added to my satisfaction. No alcohol, fat and sugar free, hydrating, only takes a day to make (with carbonation), and it’s cheap as hell—what’s not to love?! I would highly recommend anyone who loves hops but isn’t always in the mood for actual beer to try this recipe out, or if you’re in the Denver area, stop by my place, because I’ll be keeping a keg of H-brü-O on tap at all times!