Review: MoreBeer’s Hop Gatherer – Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA Clone – Homebrew Recipe Kit

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.

MoreBeer’s Hop Gatherer – Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA Clone – Recipe Kit

Hop Gatherer is an IPA. The recipe is inspired by Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA, which actually isn’t brewed by them anymore. It was brewed using some fancy method supposedly of steam distilling wet hops into a condensed oil while still in the field. It’s hard to imagine all of that, but I did remember liking the beer, so I thought I’d give this recipe a try. They had two versions of this kit, one with El Dorado hops, and one with Chinook. I opted for the El Dorado.


Get Pricing & Check Availability, Review Continues Below:

El Dorado Version, Reviewed in the post

Also Available, Chinook Version


Unboxing and Kit Inventory

Contents of Kit

I ordered un-milled grains, as I like to have control of the grain crush. The malts were packaged in pre-measured bags, with malts from Viking, Great Western Malting, and a package of flaked oats. Therefore it was easy to cross-reference to the recipe card to confirm I got the right amounts of everything. The hops came in light-proof, thick bags, where the hops were nitrogen flushed before bagging. In addition to the pellet hops, there was a tiny vial of concentrated hop oil. There was also a tablet of something called Kick Carrageenan, a clarifier used in the boil kettle. The recipe kits from MoreBeer don’t come with a specific yeast, instead they give you a list of yeast recommendations from the different yeast vendors they carry (White Labs, Wyeast, Gigayeast, Imperial, and Fermentis Dry). I went for the GY001 – NorCal Ale #1. Gigayeast packages contain 200 billion yeast cells, which on the package they say can be used as a straight pitch without a starter to ferment 5 gallons of wort up to 1.070 gravity. So that’s a great time saver. The yeast came inside a well-padded plastic envelope with 6 small ice packs. It had a cross-country journey from California to Michigan in the middle of summer, so in an unrefrigerated FedEx truck, it didn’t really have much of a chance. The ice packs were all thawed, and the yeast pouch was warm to the touch. Checking the surface of the pouch with my thermometer, it measured 76F. In addition to the ingredients, there was a recipe card with basic brewing directions, a cut-out shape to go with the MoreBeer custom tap handle, and a sheet of basic brewing process tips.

Hop Gatherer Malts

Great Western Crystal 15L Viking 2 Row Xtra Pale MaltHands on ReviewFlaked Oats


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Hop Gatherer Hops

El Dorado Hop Oil Pellet Hops


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Hop Gatherer Yeast

GigaYeast Norcal #1Complete Lineup Padded Envelope with Yeast and Ice Packs Temperature of Yeast Pouch at Unpacking – Related: Mk4 Hands on Review

Easy to Follow Recipe Card + Tap Handle Insert

In addition to the ingredients, there was a recipe card with basic brewing directions, a cut-out shape to go with the MoreBeer custom tap handle, and a sheet of basic brewing process tips.

Brew Day – Hop Gatherer

The recipe directions were very general. For example, they gave mash temperature, but didn’t specify a mash time. For seasoned brewers, this is a welcome flexibility, since we all have our particular opinions on certain process details. For newbies, this might mean a little outside research is required, which could be a good learning experience anyway. The recipe called for a 153F mash. I decided to do a multi-step mash, as my experience shows when I use flaked grains, that I get better conversion with a multi-step. My typical multi-step is 100F for 15 min, 122F for 20 min, 153F for 45 min, and finally 168F for 10 min. I adjusted water with brewing salts to match a hoppy water profile and lactic acid to adjust the pH. I ended up with a measured pH of 5.87 in the mash, higher than the 5.5 I was targeting. I then did a 60 minute boil, where I added the hops as per the schedule. I added the Kick Carrageenan tablet with 5 minutes left in the boil. It’s hard to quantify the exact effect of the tablet since I haven’t used it before, but there did seem to be long strings of things forming in the kettle that I don’t normally see with my Irish Moss. I hit the Original Gravity of 1.058.

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Large Globby Chunks from Clarifier Tablet

Fermentation

Fermentation in SS BrewBucketHands on Review

Fermentation was a quick start, with signs of gravity dropping (monitored via Tilt Bluetooth hydrometer) within 5 hours after pitching. I fermented at 69F for about 2 days, with fermentation approaching FG from the Tilt readings. I stepped up the temperature to 73F throughout the next day. The gravity went on dropping at a slow rate for another 6 days until I’d decided it was done and then transferred to an oxygen-purged keg to cold crash. After 6 days cold I transferred into another oxygen-purged serving keg and added the hop oil extract. For the hop oil, the direction noted ¼ of the bottle provides strong hop flavor, ½ for heavy hop flavor, and the full bottle for extreme hop flavor. That being said, the volume of hop oil in the bottle is only 1 ml, so it was difficult to know exactly what portion of the bottle is added. I tried to add ½ ml. It finished fermentation with an ABV of 5.9% and FG of 1.013, with a yeast attenuation of just under 77%.

Fermentation Plot using TILT Bluetooth HydrometerHands on Review

Custom Tap Handle and Included Insert

Custom Tap Handle for Recipe Card Insert or Chalk Writing on Blank Inserts.  Note: All MoreBeer recipe kits include a free insert that works with this tap handle.

Tap Handle with Included Professionally designed insert

Conclusions: Finished Beer and Tasting

This beer was a tasty IPA. It had been several years since I’d had Hop Hunter from Sierra Nevada, so I don’t know for sure how closely it tasted. It didn’t seem to be quite the same as the Hop Hunter. My tastings of Hop Gatherer showed notable fresh hop aroma. Slightly bitter hop bite at first, which was then followed by a clean bread-like malt taste, and finally some lingering hop bitterness. I was surprised at how cleanly the malt flavor came through, and I was expecting a lot more hoppiness from the description of the oil additions. Next time, I would probably use the full 1 ml bottle to give more hop punch. I shared this beer with my neighborhood homebrew network, and they liked it, noting they enjoyed the hop presence. Apparently, I must be more of a hop head!

Get Pricing & Check Availability:

El Dorado Version, Reviewed in the post

Also Available, Chinook Version

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More Photos

GigaYeast InstructionsKick Carrageenan Boil Kettle ClarifierMultiple Ice Packs Couldn’t Survive the Trip

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Special Thanks to MoreBeer for providing the kit used for evaluation in this review.

By Brad Probert.  Check out Brad’s website – beersnobby.com

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