How to Store Hops
There are right and wrong ways to store your hops to keep them as fresh as possible for future brewing and dry hopping. In this blog entry, we are going to cover some best practices for preserving the quality and potency of your hops when storing them for an extended period.
First off, it is important to be aware that hops are constantly degrading, and at best, all we can hope to do is slow the process down. As time passes, the resins, acids, and oils in the hops break down and the potential for aroma and bittering is drastically diminished. The two greatest causes of hop degradation are temperature and exposure to oxygen.
The colder you can store your hops, the better, as it will slow the rate of oxidization. Ideally, you want to store your hops in a freezer with a temperature of less than 30F. If possible, strive for a temperature closer to 20F, and do your best to make sure that the hops are vacuum sealed and free of any moisture when frozen. Oxygen is the true nemesis of hop freshness. Do your best to keep your hops properly sealed in a bag that is resistant to oxygen permeability and flushed with nitrogen. If you do not have access to a vacuum sealer, use a Ziploc bag, and remove as much oxygen out of the bag as possible.
If you have stored your hops for longer then 12-24 months, you will probably want to consider replacing them with some fresher hops. It is difficult to know how fresh the hops were when the supplier received and packaged them, so at that point they may already be 3 years old, and their bittering potential will be very difficult to predict. If the hops are brownish in color, and the aroma is faint or unusual, they should be discarded.
Northern Brewer has a great selection of well-packaged hops and I purchase most of mine from them. You can view their selection of hops here.
Hops in a nitrogen purged and shielded bag that was recently purchased: