New 'teabag' lets you customise your beer

Hop Theory's beer teabag.
Hop Theory's beer teabag. 

Can a specialised teabag turn an average brew into a craft beer in under four minutes?

Created by Maryland-based biology student Bobby Gattuso, Hop Theory promises to transform beer with its blend of hops, fruit peels and natural flavours.

It's a teabag-like mesh sachet, made of biodegradable corn starch, that's filled with dried and ground cascade hops, orange peel and coriander seeds. One sachet flavours up to four beers.

The product hasn't yet been released, but has just hit its fundraising goal of $US25,000 on crowd-funding website Kickstarter.

Hop Theory lets you customise your beer the way you brew a cup of tea: you pop a sachet into a glass, pour in your beer and let it infuse for two to four minutes.

The orange blend is the only flavour available for now, but additional varieties will be released down the track, including raspberry, pumpkin, double IPA and peach. They will all be made with 100 per cent natural ingredients.

"No longer do you have to settle for what's being served or dream about the beer you could be having," proclaims the Hop Theory website. "Hop Theory lets you be the brewer; anytime and anywhere."

So is this the start of a new micro-micro-brewing trend, or an alarming misappropriation of the teabag – and the term "craft beer"?

Chairwoman of the Craft Beer Industry Association, Peta Fielding, can't see it taking off in Australia any time soon. She's watched a few similar products come and go, including hop oil essences.  

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"I think most Australian craft beer brewers would see [Hop Theory] as a bit of a novelty," she says. "And they'd certainly take issue with the suggestion that it can turn any beer into craft beer."

As Fielding says, by definition, craft beer is not about shortcuts.

"It's about doing things properly…drawing out the characteristics of hops and other ingredients all the way along the brewing process," she says.

She also laughs at the thought of punters bringing teabags to the pub with them.

Yet the Kickstarter campaign has attracted almost 900 backers from around the world, all of whom will soon be dunking sachets into their schooners, pints and pots.