Whether you prefer the term “Hop Water” or “Sparkling Hop Tea”, the latest trend for enjoying the great taste of beer without the calories or the alcohol is a simple, refreshing drink that is shockingly easy to make (even at home).
You can enjoy many of the flavors of your favorite beers, and the relaxing effects of hops, without the challenges of brewing beer or the side effects that go along with drinking it.
Follow along for 3 simple ways to try hop water at home. But first, here are a few important details that will let you get the most out of this trendy new hops drink.
What is Hop Water?
Hop water is a steeped drink made with hops that is often carbonated and usually consumed cold. It goes by many names including hop water, hop tea, hop ice tea, sparkling hop tea, hop seltzer, and so on.
At its most basic, hop water has only two ingredients: Hops and Water. (LOL – it really is that simple!). Most recipes call for added lemon or citrus. Many require carbonation. But not to worry, I’ve got you covered with some easy solutions in the recipes below.
Hops are the beer ingredient that imparts the bitterness and aromas to IPA and other beers. The bitterness comes from the release of alpha acids when hops are boiled. But the other aromas and flavors come from adding hops later in the brewing process so that they are heated less and therefore the terpenes and flavor compounds are preserved in the final drink.
This concept of short cycle steeping of the hops is what makes hop water flavorful with just a hint of bitterness. You’ll be surprised just how much like beer this drink can taste, while staying light and refreshing.
3 DIY Hop Water Recipes
1. DIY Hop Tea
The easiest way to enjoy hop water is simply to add hops to your favorite (but mild) tea. Green tea is probably the simplest available option which will not overpower the aromas of the hops.
If you have access to fresh hops cones, try adding 5 or 6 cones to your dry tea bag (or herbs) in a small tea pot and then add the boiling water.
Steeping for five minutes will give you a very mild hop tea. Twenty minutes will give you stronger aromas and a little bitterness. You can also add more cones if you are not getting the effect you hope for.
Once steeped, remove the hops and tea. Taste test. Add lemon or honey if desired. Chill and drink!
Notes: No fresh hops cones? No worries. Try experimenting with hop pellets. There are something like 200 dried cones in 0.5 oz (14 grams) of pellets. That means the equivalent of 5 or 6 fresh cones works out to something like 0.02 oz (0.4 grams) dried hops in a small tea pot as your starting estimate. Adjust according to your own taste and preference.
It might take a few tries to find the right combination of green tea and hops to get the beer-like flavor effect you want. Everyone’s tastes are a little different.
2. DIY Sparkling Hop Water
The carbonation factor of sparkling hop water has a lot of appeal, especially when creating a refreshing chilled hop drink.
It’s important to remember that you only want to steep the hops, not boil them. Boiling would bring out more of the bitter components which might be too much in a water-based non-alcoholic drink.
For a larger batch of hop water try using 0.14 oz (14 grams) of hops in 1.5 to 2 gallons of boiled water. Some brewers suggest adding the juice of one lemon (approx. 2 tbsp) to the water to lower the ph and enhance the release of terpenes for the aromatic effects.
Steep for around 20 minutes. Remove the hops and chill the water.
THEN use a Soda Stream or other DIY carbonator to add the fizzy pop to the hop water.
3. DIY Hop Seltzer
Last but not least, you can also add carbonation to hop water by blending it with your favorite carbonated spring water or seltzer.
Steep the hops as noted above. You will definitely want to err on the side of a longer steeping time because the plan is to mix the steeped hop water with the carbonated water to create a fast and refreshing beer-like (but non-alcoholic) drink.
The mixing ratio should be 1 part steeped hop water to 2 parts carbonated water. You can use plain carbonated spring water or try the pre-flavored types like lemon, lime, peach or strawberry for a unique combination of fruity-hoppy goodness.
Suggested hops: Hops that lend themselves well to hop water include BC Dr. Rudi and BC Nugget.
Easy as 1 – 2 – 3 (steep, chill, carbonate)
Hop water gives you the flavor of beer, the health benefits of hops, and none of the sugar, calories, alcohol or beer side effects that come from downing your favorite brew.
And why stop at hop tea or hop water? Use that hop water base to make mocktails and other soothing drinks (check out these hop-mocktail recipes). It’s fun. It’s easy. And it lets you enjoy that great hoppy taste any time, anywhere.
Check out the Hop Shop for great hops to use in hop water and tea. Look for the highly aromatic varieties best suited to dry hopping and you’ll be sipping your hop water in no time. at all.