Thursday, October 15, 2009

Storing Hops

In my preparation for returning to San Miguel De Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico I am gathering some special brewing equipment and materials to take with me. These are items that are difficult or expensive to get down there.

One item that is particularly difficult to get are hops. You can buy them from a couple of homebrew stores like Homebrewing Mexico and Fermentando but their prices are ridiculously high. So, today I spent some time packaging hop pellets for the trip. I have a FoodSaver V2040 food packaging system that is perfect for my task. I buy my hop pellets by the pound from Hops Direct so first I needed to break those down into manageable 4oz. increments, (Hops Direct ships in a foil package that would probably be picked up on the airport scanner as my suitcase is going through so I don't want to use the original packaging). In any case, 4oz. should fit in a legal sized envelope for mailing and lay flat in my baggage without attracting too much attention.

Weighing out the hops

Cut the bags to size and seal one end

Fill the bag with hops and lay open end across the vacuum sealer

The FoodSaver draws the air out of the bag and then seals the other end

Compact packaging

I'm concerned about taking plant material like hops into the country and getting through customs. The last time down I got the red light. Standing in the line watching the people ahead of me I calculated my odds of having my bag searched. I figured a high probability of having to open my case, exposing all my contraband in the form of a variety of different degrees of roasted malted barley.

As it happened I was searched and the grains appeared highly suspect (not to mention bundles of dry malt extract). I pleaded that I be allowed to enter the country with them and soon a supervisor was brought into the equation. He smelled and tasted the grains and concluded that since they were 'toastado' that I could keep them. Well, they may not be as generous if they see vacuum sealed packs of what looks like illegal vegetable matter. So I have a back-up plan, I will place half of the hops in legal sized manila envelopes and mail them down to my p.o. box before I leave the States, thus avoiding the high surcharge or duty on packages entering Mexico and hopefully bypassing any serious inspections. I will plan to mail six envelopes each containing four ounces of hop pellets and take as much in my luggage. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Until then, I'll keep them in the freezer.

Hops ready for the trip

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