This fits in several categories, but I put it here.
I did a couple experiments with the goal of reducing the boil time. One of the problems with a shorter boil (~20 min.) is that time is insufficient for the conversion of the alpha acids. My hypothesis was since the higher the heat, the faster the conversion, I needed a way to heat the hops at a hotter temp. My solution was to fry the hops in oil. My first attempt was to batter pellet hops and then deep fry them, and then add them to the mash – basically I made country fried hops. The beer turned out OK, but there was less bittering than I wanted. When I was cleaning up from the hop cooking, I tasted a bit of the oil used to cook the hops. It was quite bitter! So even though they were battered, quite a bit of the bittering was extracted out into the oil.
Round two. Since I realized that much of the bittering was ending up in the oil, I figured I would simply sautee the hop pellets in a neutral flavored oil. The obvious problem then was what about all of that oil? My answer was lecithin, a powerful emulsifer, often isolated from soybeans. I sauted the hops in 6 Tbsp of oil and added everything to my mash at the end of the conversion. I added an equal volume of lecithin (a viscous liquid). I gave the mash a good stir and was pleased to see that that oil slick disappeared.
Now being a scientist, I know better, but I changed up even more variables to my brew process, which of course makes it hard to evaluate. I went ahead and boiled the whole mash! – but just for 20 min., and added flavor and aroma hops at the appropriate time ( I made the mash extra thin to compensate for the loss of volume as I was doing this no sparge – did I mention that I changed way to many variables) Then I did my vorlauf, and then through my plate chiller to a carboy.
The beer turned out OK. Wasn’t great, wasn’t bad. Bitterness was about where I wanted (Pale ale). No head retention issues whatsoever, so between the lecithin, and getting stuck to the husks, etc. in the mash, 6 Tbsp of vegetable oil was successfully neutralized.
I might try this again, but with my regular process, and just substitute the sauteed hops for the bittering addition (and add the lecithin)