Frequently Asked Questions
How do I contact Alpha Analytics?
You can call or e-mail a member of our knowledgeable staff at any time- 1.877.875.6642 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also stay in touch by signing up to receive our monthly newsletter.
What is your turnaround time?
In many cases, we’re able to provide results the day that we receive your samples. However, some analyses take longer than others (oil profiles in particular), and sometimes the delivery truck arrives a little late. It's safe to say that you’ll have your results within two business days of sample delivery.
We’re busiest during hop harvest, between mid-August and mid-October. We prioritize our time-sensitive harvest related analyses during that time, but please don’t hesitate to let us know if you require rush processing on beer or pellets.
What are your operating hours?
At minimum, we’re available Monday through Friday from 9-5 PST. This, like everything else, varies with the seasonality of hop harvest and pellet production. We seem to be here almost 24/7 through harvest, tapering towards 18/6 by Halloween, and we eventually hit regular business hours sometime in January.
How will I receive my results?
You’ll receive a Certificate of Analysis by email. Results will also be available within your user account on our website. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat to open the PDF file.
I have some doubts about the results that I received from you. Are you sure that you’re doing it right? Can I get a retest?
We’re scientists. We have that annoying habit of never being completely sure about anything, even when we’re completely sure about it.
But seriously, we participate in a couple check services and we cross-validate our results with other labs to assure their accuracy. We run all of our samples in duplicate to reduce the chances of human error, contamination, etc. If something seems off, we run it again. This is why we ask you to identify the hop or beer type that you’re sending in.By knowing the type, we can guess at the range of values that your results should fall within, and we can give extra attention to anything that seems outside of spec.
Finally, we retain your sample for a week after we deliver your results. This gives you the opportunity to review your results and consider a retest. The retest, of course, is free if it turns out that we’ve made a mistake. However, please be aware that not all samples will store well for a week. We can re-measure alcohol on an old oxidized beer, but we know that your IBUs will degrade during that time.
I’m looking to purchase hop essential oils, CO₂ extract, hops, etc. Can you help?
A previous generation of lab staff had some extra hop oil on hand that was occasionally available for purchase. Nowadays, we’re focused on providing assistance to growers, brewers, researchers, and information seekers; we no longer have items available for retail sales.
How do you determine the minimum required sample size?
First and foremost, your results will only be as good as the sample that you submit. If that sample isn't a good representation of your field, lot, batch, etc, your results will be meaningless. Therefore, our sample sizes are determined by the minimum size that we've found is required to achieve a representative sample, coupled with the fact that we run most analyses in duplicate to assure a quality analysis. As with almost everything, there's no penalty for doing more than the minimum.If you send more hops, we'll have a larger sample to grind and homogenize, which increases the likelihood that your sample will accurately represent your batch of hops.
Do you offer services to home brewers and non-commerical growers?
Absolutely! Each of our analysis services is available to both hop growers and brewers of any size.
How should I pack my hops for delivery?
Temperature and oxygen are the enemies of hops, so we recommend you do whatever you can to exclude these factors. Vacuum food sealers do a great job of excluding oxygen and protecting hops in transit! If it’s hot anywhere along the transit route, we also recommend that you include an ice pack in your shipping box to help keep the hops cool for as long as possible.
How do you recommend that I dry my hops?
Drying is best done at moderate temperatures and high airflow rates. On a small scale, we’ve had great luck with counter-top food dehydrators. You’ll want to set the temperature near 135°F / 57°C, which you can measure by placing a thermometer in the dehydrator. At that temperature, and with your hops spread evenly and shallowly across the trays, you can probably dry your hops in 3-4 hours. They’re dry when the center strig (the “stem” inside the cone) becomes more brittle than flexible. However, you don’t want your hops so dry that they shatter on contact.
What’s the difference between your ‘Dry Matter’ and ‘Moisture’ analyses?
Dry Matter is a common harvest metric that is useful in determining the optimal harvest time. This analysis determines the exact volume of water in FRESH hops, which is then used to calculate the % Dry Matter.
Moisture is a metric that’s useful for evaluating the stability of DRIED hops, either pellets or whole cones. Dried hops should be below about 10% moisture to slow their degradation (and to reduce the chances of them composting and bursting into flames!).
I have some hops growing in my backyard. Can you ID them for me?
Well, maybe. We can't actually give you a positive ID, but we might be able to help you narrow your options down to a few candidate varieties. Please see this post for more info [link to variety profiles].
Will transit time affect the quality of my results?
Generally speaking, hop samples should be shipped as quickly as possible. This is particularly important for fresh (“wet”) hop samples. For best results, please pack fresh hops with ice packs and have them overnighted to us.
Dried hops and pellets travel much better than fresh hops, however, we still recommend that you ship as quickly as possible. 2-3 days should be fine in the summer and ground should be okay in cooler months.
Please be aware that our shipping department is not staffed on weekends so we recommend that you arrange your shipping time to avoid Saturday delivery.
How should I ship my packaged brews to you? What if we don’t package our beers?
If you have packaged beer, just box it up (with some good padding) and send it off to us. If you don’t package, any clean leak-proof container is fine. We like to receive at least 6-8 oz of beer, but more is better. We typically filter our samples and run our tests in duplicate, so it’s nice to have a little extra to work with.
Also, we’re not qualified to give legal advice, but we’ve heard that most shippers except USPS are okay transporting beer if it’s marked “Lab sample. Not for human consumption” or “Yeast samples for analysis.” Please check with your carrier of choice to confirm that you’re in compliance.
Will transit time have an effect on my beer analysis results?
The time in transit should not significantly affect beer, but something faster than standard ground service might be in order during the heat of summer. Our shipping department is not staffed on weekends so we also recommend that you arrange your shipping time to avoid Saturday delivery.
Please feel free to contact a member of our staff at 1.877.875.6642 or email email@example.com