H2OPS & Beer – a perfect pairing

After seeing this photo someone posted on the H2OPS Instagram page, it reminded me what a great session extender H2OPS is. As an example, I was cleaning up my garage this weekend.  To make it more enjoyable, I put on some music and cracked open one of my favorite beers.  After two, I could tell my productivity was going down.  I pondered cracking another but wisely twisted open a bottle of H2OPS and finished off the job refreshed and hydrated.  If I would have had another beer, it might have been nap time and weekend plans delayed or cut short.

After consuming and serving H2OPS over the course of several years on different occasions and pouring it at over 30 beer festivals, I have come to the strong conclusion that H2OPS pairs exceptionally well with beer.  H2OPS is brewed with hops (like beer) and when drinking a H2OPS after drinking a beer, it feels like you are still in the session.  Yet there is no alcohol or calories.  It tastes more refreshing and a bit different for sure, but it doesn’t shock your system like drinking plain or sparkling water as a spacer.

Of course H2OPS is fantastic as a stand-alone beverage enjoyed without beer, but H2OPS as a “session extender” is one of its most enjoyable and life improving uses.

Cheers!

Paul Tecker
Founder & Brewer
H2OPS Sparkling Hop Water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC

 

Relax Don’t Worry Have a Homebrew

Its National Home Brew Day today.  For some it’s just another “drink a beer day.”  To me, home brewing is personal and meaningful on many levels.

Home brewing kicked off when Senator Alan Cranston from California sponsored a bill to legalize it in 1978. It was a different time back in 1978.  In these early days of home brewing, all beer was essentially the same; the American Pale Lager, aka Bud, Miller, Schlitz, Hamms, etc.  Homebrewers at that time were motivated because they could brew beer they couldn’t buy in the store.  Today with the plethora of craft beer in many styles, that’s not the main motivation.  It’s more about understanding the process and becoming intimate with something you admire and appreciate.  For a select few, it’s about learning the craft and figuring out if you have the chops to be a pro craft brewer.

On a personal level, it was a shared appreciation of the reds, porters and unusual style beers that I could sometimes find at Trader Joe’s and other specialty California retailers back in the early 1990s that led this girl I was dating to buy me a basic home brewing kit as a birthday gift.  It was then that I knew she was a keeper.  We have been married now for 22 years.

About 5 years ago, my hobby of home brewing had evolved to where I was growing hops in my backyard.  It was after a day of brewing with these freshly picked hops, when it hit me that hops could be brewed in a way to create a flavorful hop water without grains or yeast.  After having friends and family taste this new brew, I knew I was onto something.  After 2 years of trial with many different hop blends and methods, I set out to commercialize what is now the first craft brewed hop water: H2OPS.

So cheers to all my fellow home brewers on this special day.  Raise a glass to Alan Cranston for legalizing it and again for the home brew shop owners who have poured their passion and life savings into providing quality home brewing supplies so that we could innovate and appreciate the wonder of beer.

As famous home brew author Charlie Papazian says:  “Relax, Don’t Worry Have a Home Brew”

Cheers!

Paul Tecker
Founder & Brewer
H2OPS Sparkling Hop Water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.

 

 

 

Growing Your Own Hops at Home – You Can Do It

I was checking out my hop garden for signs of life this evening and sure enough this year’s crop is starting to peek out from the ground.  It’s hard to believe it was five years ago when I first took the plunge into growing my own hops.  In hindsight, I wish I would have done it years before.  It was this step which truly made me appreciate the magical thing that hops are.  It also directly led to my epiphany that hops could be brewed and enjoyed as a refreshing sparkling hop water.

So you want to grow your own hops?  I say go for it.  Its March and now is the time that home brewer suppliers and hop farmers are offering hop rhizomes to the public at large.  They simply ship the live root like clippings direct to your home.  Check out the many sources by searching online for “hop rhizomes.”

With regard to climate, I was very concerned that I was wasting my time because I live in Yorba Linda, California, which is located in So Cal between the Mojave Desert and the coast. The climate is pretty different than the areas in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, where the best commercial hop farmers in the West cultivate.  Because the reward was so big, I plunged ahead anyway and hedged my bet by purchasing two of every variety I could find, hoping that one would be hearty enough to survive.  I labeled stakes by variety and the one that initially did the best here was the Columbus hop; a fitting hop for what I consider a discovery.  I have since had success with other hops and have met other small commercial operators here who have impressively been able to grow a wide variety of hops in Southern California.

While there are entire books on hop cultivation, I can assure you that the planting is very easy.  Tending to what eventually comes out of the ground may present some challenges however, so choose your location wisely.   Hops can grow an impressive 12” a day at their peak season and reach up to 25 feet. You can almost watch them grow.  Many home hop farmers, especially those with 2 story homes, choose a location near their house, so they can string twine from the rooftop.  This is easier than devising a standalone system, but there are many ways to string a hop.  For most varieties, the peak harvest occurs in August and then they go dormant and you cut back the plant to near the ground.  As my new hops peak out from the soil as they did today, I usually trim back the dead wood some more and move the mulch out of the way.

All the details of planting and caring for your hops goes beyond the scope of this post, so check out You Tube and other online resources.  It’s easier than you might think and very rewarding.  Even if you are not a brewer, I am sure your neighborhood has some who would jump at the chance to make use of your bounty.  Hops are beautiful and majestic plants to look at and picking and enjoying that aroma will enhance your knowledge of beer and bring back a wave of memories of a well hopped beer.  What could be more enjoyable than enjoying a home brew, craft beer or craft hop water in the shade of your own hop plants?  You might even pick a hop and plop it in your drink as a garnish.

Hop Garnish

Cheers!

Paul Tecker
Founder & Brewer
H2OPS Sparkling Hop Water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.

H2OPS Harvest 2015

To be in the Yakima valley for the hop harvest is on the bucket list of many craft beer brewers and aficionados.  Check!  Visitors to the farms this time of year get to see the towering hop bines at their peak height basking in the warm sun and shimmering with bright green hop cones.  I am 6 foot 4 and I feel like a toddler among these NBA players of the plant world.  Its not only the visual majesty, the complex grassy, piney and floral aromas flow through the hop yards and processing facilities bombarding your senses at every turn. Even the multi-generational hop farmers, who have experienced this cycle all their lives, seem genuinely proud and humbled by the giants they have cultivated. The marveling doesn’t last long however, because pride soon turns to anxiousness, as they prepare themselves for the laborious harvest which will go on 24/7 for the next several months. Yes they even harvest at night so they can get the whole crop picked at its peak. Thank you hop farmers!

Of course this was a “business trip,” albeit one I would gladly pay to attend if it weren’t related to the business of brewing our hop water. I was invited by our co-op of hop farmers YCH Hops for a few days of presentations, which included one by guest hop expert Stan Heyronomous, author of the book For the Love of Hops. I wish I would have brought my book to have him autograph it.

A highlight of the trip was the tour of the renowned Perrault Farms. There I got to walk through experimental hop groves, where they are cultivating future “hop stars” like the recent Simcoe® hop they happen to be harvesting when I was there. If you have ever wondered, hops are not genetically modified. They are cross bread the old fashion way and evaluated for aroma, flavor and other characteristics. Results determine which new varieties are adopted and cultivated.  Interestingly I learned that some farmers use environmentally friendly ladybugs to ward off pests and some plant “cover crops” in-between the rows to reduce weeds. The Perrault family just upgraded their hop separating equipment to a new state of the art system located in the middle of their farm. I was privileged to get a tour and recorded few photographs and a short video on my phone while I was there. So if you ever wondered how hops go from farm to bottle, this is your chance to find out.  Click here to check it out and some other videos on H2OPS Hop Water.

PS: You get extra credit if you can spot the lady bug in the video.

Cheers!

Paul Tecker
Founder & Brewer
H2OPS Sparkling Hop Water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.

The Freedom to Home Brew

On this Independence Day, we give thanks to those in history who were responsible for the Declaration of Independence and the freedoms we enjoy.  While not specifically in the document, we Americans have long enjoyed the freedom to brew and to choose to “drink local.”  This dates back to George Washington, who grew hops and malted barley at this Mount Vernon estate for brewing beer at home.  Expressing his independence and freedom to brew, Washington once wrote:  “We have already been too long subject to British Prejudices. I use no porter (beer) or cheese in my family, but that which is made in America.”

That freedom to home brew went away with prohibition in 1919.  Interestingly when prohibition was repealed in 1933, this freedom was not restored.  It wasn’t until almost 60 years later when Senator Alan Cranston of California wedged the freedom to home brew into HR 1337; a bill which was mostly about taxation on large vehicles and estate and trust taxes.  Credit also goes to President Jimmy Carter who signed the bill into law in 1978.

Shortly after the repeal of what I call “home brew prohibition,” Ken Grossman opened up a homebrew shop in Chico, CA  which eventually led to his founding of Sierra Nevada Brewing.  Many home brewers followed and some opened up craft breweries of their own, kicking off the craft brewing revolution we are enjoying today.

So as you raise a glass in celebration of our independence and freedoms, don’t forget those responsible for our freedom to brew.

Cheers!

Paul Tecker

Founder & Brewer H2OPS hop water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.
 

 

 

 

Hydrating hop heads at LA Beer Week

What an incredible day and venue for the #LABW7 festival Saturday at Exposition Park Los Angeles. Thank you to all who came by and sampled our hop water. It was so gratifying to see the faces of people trying it for the first time. It typically started with an “I am intrigued” and ended with “that’s amazing, it’s so refreshing, not what I expected, can I have some more and finally where can I buy some?”

We had a steady flow of people coming by the booth in the beginning, but mid festival until the end we had line ups of people.  Many who came up said they were told by their friends that they had to go over and try the hop water. Overall the event was confirmation that we are onto something.  It totally boosts my confidence as I work to convince skeptical distributors and retailers that hops can be enjoyed on more occasions than in craft beer.

Cheers!

Paul Tecker

Founder & Brewer H2OPS hop water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.
 

 

Zero alcohol?

So how can it be that h2ops hop water doesn’t have any alcohol? Well it helps to understand where alcohol comes from.  In beverages, the source of alcohol is from sugars, which are fermented by yeast, which in turn produces alcohol.  Our hop water may be loaded with hops, but there are no fermentable sugars or yeast and therefore no alcohol.

Interestingly, some non-alcoholic (NA) beers start out as alcoholic beers and through a process of high heat, most of the alcohol is removed…along with a lot of the flavor.  After this removal process, there is typically some alcohol remaining. 0.5% is the legal limit to be considered a NA beverage in the US. Despite being below the limit, regulations require a person to be 21 years or older to purchase NA beer. h2ops hop water is not a beer or even a NA beer by any definition. Our unique hop water is simply brewed hops and sparkling water and is an innovative new part of the flavored water category.

Cheers!

Paul Tecker

Founder & Brewer H2OPS hop water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.
 

h2ops hop water design

We have received many compliments on our hop drop graphic and  h2ops hop water label, so I thought it would be cool to give credit where it is due. Ross Buswell at Atmosphere Design is the artist who created the h2ops graphics and label. Ross has some pretty amazing craft beer brand work in his portfolio and was even featured in a new book called “cool beer labels.”  Although the craft beer work was impressive, he assured me that this innovative hop water work was in his wheelhouse.  I think you will agree that he did a phenomenal job. The distinctive water drop icon is a cross between a hop and a water drop and to me has just the right feel and is crazy creative.  Accordingly, we have taken steps to register the h2ops hop drop as an official trademark and plan to use it more and more in our packaging and logo merch.

Cheers!

Paul Tecker

Founder & Brewer H2OPS hop water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.
 

How do you pronounce h2ops?

How do you pronounce h2ops? Is it H2-OPS, HOPS 2-0 or is it just H2OPS with the 2 being silent? Clearly whoever named this doesn’t understand good branding.  To me, it’s an unconventional drink and an unconventional brand name. A wise person once said, “call me what you want, just don’t call me late to dinner.” h2ops the brand is kind of like that.  We tend to call it H2-OPS but hey, its up to you.  I do have to give credit (or blame) to a friend who came up with the name after tasting it.

Perhaps I am dreaming, but If there were ever two hop waters on the menu, someone might just ask for a “hop water.” The waiter would then ask which brand? I sincerely hope that “H-2-O-P-S” will be the name awkwardly rolling off your tongue…with the 2 silent, or not.

Cheers!

Paul Tecker

Founder & Brewer H2OPS hop water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.
 

Hop water research

So I thought it would be interesting to post some more information on what is hop water and what others are doing with hops in beverages. To update my knowledge, I spent quite a few hours on Google and it seems that “hop water” is a long established generic term for hops and water and is sometimes used for various health reasons. The CVS Pharmacy website for instance discusses generic “hop water” and details studies outside the US on its possible health benefits. The FDA considers hops as generally recognized as safe, but marketable health claims have not yet been substantiated. Personally, I believe our hop water should be enjoyed simply as a refreshing zero alcohol, zero calorie, flavored water.

So what other hop water beverages are out there besides our h2ops?  Not many, but I can report that there are a few entrepreneurial hop flavored, sugar sweetened sodas, tonics and supplements using the generic term hop water. It’s great to see other fellow innovators who share our love of hops. At this point, what sets us  apart is that h2ops is simply brewed hops and water in ready to drink bottles and kegs.

It will be fascinating to see what happens in the years to come to this “hop water” category and what other new and innovative uses for hops are discovered.

Cheers,

Paul Tecker

Founder & Brewer H2OPS hop water

H2OPS and the hop drop logo are trademarks of H2OPS LLC.