This was the idea behind the Barth-Haas development and introduction of a new bittering product at this year’s Craft Brewers Conference. It’s called FLEX™, short for “flowable extract.” Our innovations group recognized brewers’ desires to move beyond hop pellets to reduce process losses, while also realizing the bitterness utilization improvement from CO2 hop extract. But—and this is a big but—CO2 extracts can be difficult, messy, sticky, and often wasteful in terms of both residual extract left in the package and the package itself (cans). What if you could come up with a product much like standard CO2 extract, but make it flowable and easy to dose? Just measure and pour?
That was the challenge. Resinous hop extracts are typically semi-solid at room temperature. They can be made pourable, which could include non-hop based emulsifiers, but brewers may be reluctant to use such a product. So our hop technologists put their heads together to figure out how to make a CO2 hop bittering extract that was flowable at room temperature, yet using only native, unmodified hop components.
Since our Haas Innovations Brewery came online in 2014, we’ve used CO2 extract as our primary means of beer bittering with great success. If you tried the beers at our booth this year at CBC, you’ve had a chance to experience the fine, clean bitterness imparted by FLEX™. We expected significant interest from brewers, especially those looking to transition from hop pellets to CO2 extract—we were delighted by how many brewers immediately realized just how easy FLEX™ is to use.
Dosing is simple. Pour out the required amount into the brew kettle at the beginning of boil, and let the normal process of alpha acids isomerization do its thing. We recommend adding FLEX™ at either first wort or at the beginning of boil. While FLEX™ does contain hop essential oils, it’s not intended to contribute to beer aroma, so the product should be added no later than the start of kettle boil.
Do yourself a favor, take FLEX™ for a test drive. Compare the beer’s flavor profile from your normal hopping regime, and take notice of the process savings and the ease of use. It’s hops…pure and simple. And much simpler to use. Talk with your Barth-Haas Group sales rep to get a sample of FLEX™.