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Ready, Aim, Hop. Examining the Hop Gun in Breweries

The aim of the HopGun is to get more hop character into a beer in less time and with adding fewer hops. It provides better efficiency and quality, reduced dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in the finished beer, and a safer working environment for the brewers.

John M. Verive Feb 9, 2019 - 12 min read

Ready, Aim, Hop. Examining the Hop Gun in Breweries Primary Image

Photo by John M. Verive

Almost since the inception of American craft beer, innovative brewers have perpetuated an arms race of escalating hoppy beers. From the days when IBUs reigned to today’s haze-obsessed brewers devising the next juice-bomb, hops have been synonymous with craft beer. The need to get bigger, bolder flavors not only drives the development of new styles and, indeed, whole new varieties of hops, but it also keeps engineers busy developing an arsenal of implements dedicated to getting hops into beer. Some of the biggest hops bombs on offer are made with the help of hopbacks, hop rockets, hop cannons, hop torpedos, or hop guns—all different solutions for getting those pungent essential oils into today’s brews.

In San Pedro, California, home of the Port of Los Angeles and the battleship-turned-museum the U.S.S. Iowa, Brouwerij West looks to improve the quality of the hoppy beers that are fueling their growth. Launched with a focus on Belgian styles and brewing traditions in 2010, the Brouwerij West brand was first operated as a “nomadic brewing” project by Founder and Brewmaster Brian Mercer before space in San Pedro’s navy warehouses was converted to a modern, solar-powered brewery that opened in 2016.

More Aroma and Flavor, Fewer Pellets

About three years after opening, Brouwerij West has added a line of on-trend hazy IPAs to the portfolio, and the brewery is operating at capacity, making about 2,500 barrels a year. Mercer hopes to double that production with strategic expansion to the brewery, and the first phase includes more 90-barrel fermentation vessels, a centrifuge, in-line carbonation capabilities, and a piece of gear purpose-built for dry-hopping: the BrauKon HopGun.

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