If there’s one thing many beer making enthusiasts do (that they regret in the end), it’s that they buy hops in bulk only to find out that they can’t use all of them.
Hops are delicate. They're highly susceptible to moisture, heat degradation, and oxygen. Any beer maker will tell you that those mentioned are bad for the taste of the beer. Hops will also lose its bittering power when it ages. When that happens, it will give out an unmistakable stale flavor.
While there are varieties you can store for a year, some will only last for a few months. What’s the best way to save your hops? Find them out here:
Keep Your Hops Away from Oxygen
Oxygen is your number one enemy. It degrades the oils found in hops, which are responsible for all the flavors and aroma that you’re looking for in a brew. When hops are oxidized, it will have that distinct aroma similar to aged cheese. Oxygen is also the culprit in breaking down the alpha acids responsible for the bitterness in beer. You should be familiar with the Hops Storage Index (HSI), which shows how different hop varieties lose their bitter taste over a period.
Keep Your Hops Away from Light
The second enemy of fresh hops is light. It ages hops really fast, so better do something about your storage fast. While some homebrew shops mistakenly put hops in a lighted display, what you want to do is to store them in the dark. Doing this will help maintain their quality.
Keep Your Hops Frozen
The third enemy is heat, so you need to keep your hops frozen. Come to think of it, you can protect your hops from all its enemies by simply freezing them. By putting your hops in the fridge, you protect them from oxygen, light, and heat. That's the best possible solution.
Keep in mind that there are many other factors affecting the bitterness of your homebrew. If you're in doubt, you might be better off buying fresh hops and brew them immediately to ensure that your beer tastes well.