Freezing hops. I’ve seen debate over the hows, but the whys are pretty undisputable. So, in this two parter, I’ll start off with that and then take you through the wonderful world of frozen hops.
I’ve seen some places claim that you can keep hops up to 2 or 3 years of properly stored. This is probably true, but I err on the side of caution and say one year tops. But again, if your hops are hanging around that long, you probably need to brew more. Just saying.
Storing your hops in dark, freezing temperatures (20-30° F) and keeping them as oxygen free as possible extends the life of the hops AKA the alpha and beta acids deteriorate at a reduced rate. This means that they’ll retain their bitterness and aroma longer thus making your beer taste good. Or at least that’s the 30,000 foot view of it.
Hop processing companies store their hops in freezing temperatures till they’re sold. Also, most hops come in a vacuum sealed package. Oxygen, heat and light are the key component of reducing the life of your hops, so keeping their exposure to these conditions to a minimum is crucial to them living a long, bitter life. Which you can do fairly easily at home as well.
There are a number of ways to do this from the simple to the (in my opinion) over cautious. Most of the stuff you need, you probably already have. Those you don’t, are easy to acquire – even if you plan to go a bit extreme.
In nutshell: Storage time can be maximized whenever exposure to oxygen light and temperature are minimized.