A Newbies Guide to Dry Hopping Your Beer

Help Support The HomeBrew Forum:

Status
Not open for further replies.

Keruso

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Messages
184
Reaction score
87
I regularly dry hop with pellets. I no longer use a muslin bag or hop spider because I found they restrict contact with the beer and far lessen the aroma and flavour effect when compared to chucking them in directly. Just chuck the pellets in cold from the fridge or frozen from the freezer. I cold crash which drops most of the hops and I place the siphon in a hop spider to catch any green matter before reaching the keg or bottling bucket.
 

Dr. Dirk

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
5
Location
Edinburgh
I LOVE hop aroma and flavour, so I love dry hopping! I end up using 170g per 19L in my American-style IPA: Chinook, Willamette, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Amarillo, and Citra. I tried a number of different methods, but ended up preferring nylon bags weighed down with SS spoons (bag/spoons boiled first to sanitize). I much prefer the taste of whole hops to pellets. The pellets end up being more astringent and less flavourful/aromatic than whole.

People say the problem with bags is that the hops aren't exposed to the beer as much as when they are put in freely. I've tried throwing them in loose, but like other posters, I've found they just float on top, develop a weird crust, and are a PITA when bottling (I keg these days, don't bottle anymore; more on that later). Loose hops also soak up alot of the brew! Weighing the bags down with spoons at least ensures that the hops are submerged. I put just enough spoons in to weigh the bag down, but not enough to sink it and have it sit on the trub, mainly because I don't want to have to reach way down into the brew to get it. Also, when it's time to get the hops out, I can use my hands (sprayed with Starsan) to squeeze my precious brew out of the hops. After a while of doing this, it dawned on me that the spent hops still retained ALOT of their aroma, so I started actually pressing and squeezing the hop bags while they were still submerged in the brew. I now do this for a few minutes before I remove the bags, ensuring the beer is flowing over and through them, getting all that flavour and aroma (and giving them that good final squeeze after they're out to get my beer out of them!)

In order to dry hop this way, you obviously can't be using carboys, as you can't fit the bag in through the neck (or wouldn't be able to get it out!) I used to use plastic buckets, but made the leap to the Brewtech SS fermenters a while ago, and do really like them now that the pain of the expense has faded.

One more interesting anecdote (this is where the kegging comes in): when I made the switch from bottling to kegging, I wasn't ready to try force carbing on the very first batch I put into a keg, so I just batch primed it like I had been doing previously with bottles. All good. On the second batch I tried force carbonating for the first time, and there was a dip in quality of the finished beer. One of my more discerning friends went from singing the praises of my brew to not being able to drink it at all! This prompted a rash of research on my part, scrolling through the forums to see what could be the matter, and a number of blind taste tests among a few friends. We tasted bottled, batch-primed kegged, and force-carbed kegged, and 100% of us could tell the difference and preferred the batch-primed kegged, then the bottled, and not so much the force-carbed kegged, which kind of had an almost lager taste creeping in, which was completely off-putting to that one discerning friend. To me it wasn't undrinkable, but was definitely inferior. I'm not 100% sure, but from my research and my own taste tests, I suspect oxygen; all the squeezing of the hops bags had been introducing oxygen into the beer, of which I was blissfully unaware while I was still bottling and on my first kegged batch because the yeast had been consuming the oxygen along with the priming sugar and saving my batches. When I tried force carbing, that didn't happen, and the oxygen affected the quality and taste of the final beer. At least that's my theory.

These days, I'm happily squeezing all the hoppy goodness out of my bags (both dry hop bags AND brew addition bags: I squeeze them around with a large SS spoon after I put them in, and wring them out with my hands after the wort cools) and batch priming my kegs, and I have to say, my IPA has by far the most hoppy flavour and aroma of any I've tried. A negative side effect is that it's ruined me on most other beers; I don't even bother ordering beer when I'm out, knowing that I'll just be disappointed.

I've been wanting to post my experience here for a long time, but haven't because I knew it was going to be a massive post and take a long time, but here it finally is. I'm interested to hear what other folks think.

Cheers, and thanks for reading if you've made it this far!
 

Keruso

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Messages
184
Reaction score
87
I LOVE hop aroma and flavour, so I love dry hopping! I end up using 170g per 19L in my American-style IPA: Chinook, Willamette, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade, Amarillo, and Citra. I tried a number of different methods, but ended up preferring nylon bags weighed down with SS spoons (bag/spoons boiled first to sanitize). I much prefer the taste of whole hops to pellets. The pellets end up being more astringent and less flavourful/aromatic than whole.

People say the problem with bags is that the hops aren't exposed to the beer as much as when they are put in freely. I've tried throwing them in loose, but like other posters, I've found they just float on top, develop a weird crust, and are a PITA when bottling (I keg these days, don't bottle anymore; more on that later). Loose hops also soak up alot of the brew! Weighing the bags down with spoons at least ensures that the hops are submerged. I put just enough spoons in to weigh the bag down, but not enough to sink it and have it sit on the trub, mainly because I don't want to have to reach way down into the brew to get it. Also, when it's time to get the hops out, I can use my hands (sprayed with Starsan) to squeeze my precious brew out of the hops. After a while of doing this, it dawned on me that the spent hops still retained ALOT of their aroma, so I started actually pressing and squeezing the hop bags while they were still submerged in the brew. I now do this for a few minutes before I remove the bags, ensuring the beer is flowing over and through them, getting all that flavour and aroma (and giving them that good final squeeze after they're out to get my beer out of them!)

In order to dry hop this way, you obviously can't be using carboys, as you can't fit the bag in through the neck (or wouldn't be able to get it out!) I used to use plastic buckets, but made the leap to the Brewtech SS fermenters a while ago, and do really like them now that the pain of the expense has faded.

One more interesting anecdote (this is where the kegging comes in): when I made the switch from bottling to kegging, I wasn't ready to try force carbing on the very first batch I put into a keg, so I just batch primed it like I had been doing previously with bottles. All good. On the second batch I tried force carbonating for the first time, and there was a dip in quality of the finished beer. One of my more discerning friends went from singing the praises of my brew to not being able to drink it at all! This prompted a rash of research on my part, scrolling through the forums to see what could be the matter, and a number of blind taste tests among a few friends. We tasted bottled, batch-primed kegged, and force-carbed kegged, and 100% of us could tell the difference and preferred the batch-primed kegged, then the bottled, and not so much the force-carbed kegged, which kind of had an almost lager taste creeping in, which was completely off-putting to that one discerning friend. To me it wasn't undrinkable, but was definitely inferior. I'm not 100% sure, but from my research and my own taste tests, I suspect oxygen; all the squeezing of the hops bags had been introducing oxygen into the beer, of which I was blissfully unaware while I was still bottling and on my first kegged batch because the yeast had been consuming the oxygen along with the priming sugar and saving my batches. When I tried force carbing, that didn't happen, and the oxygen affected the quality and taste of the final beer. At least that's my theory.

These days, I'm happily squeezing all the hoppy goodness out of my bags (both dry hop bags AND brew addition bags: I squeeze them around with a large SS spoon after I put them in, and wring them out with my hands after the wort cools) and batch priming my kegs, and I have to say, my IPA has by far the most hoppy flavour and aroma of any I've tried. A negative side effect is that it's ruined me on most other beers; I don't even bother ordering beer when I'm out, knowing that I'll just be disappointed.

I've been wanting to post my experience here for a long time, but haven't because I knew it was going to be a massive post and take a long time, but here it finally is. I'm interested to hear what other folks think.

Cheers, and thanks for reading if you've made it this far!
That's all very interesting, appreciate all the details. I agree whole hops are a pain to dry hop with, they float and don't seem to make much contact with the beer, so a bag would seem to make more sense, but not for pellets in my experience. I moved over to kegs too, initially with a small keg so I kegged some beer and bottled the rest. Therefore I could make a direct comparison and found the keg to taste cleaner and better than a bottle at least for the first few pours, but it may be my imagination, I find the keg beer gradually looses falvour and aroma over in what seems not a lot of time, a couple of weeks. I find bottles seem to hold flavour and aroma longer and more consistently. I don't force carb, I carefully fill the keg, purge, and then connect CO2 a let it carb for a week, but I still do find the hop aroma drops off noticably within a week after first pour. I haven't tried batch priming a keg, Do you still need to connect up CO2 to get the beer out ?
 

Jim2607

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
4
Reaction score
3
Dr Dirk, fabulous and interesting post! Will try the squeeze trick next time.
 

terrym

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2015
Messages
5,618
Reaction score
2,961
Location
North Sussex
Noting that I am usually one of the first on here to downplay infection risks as part of normal homebrewing practices, and in spite of the wonders of Starsan and its sanitising capability, I don't think I would want to immerse my arm and hand into an FV full of beer to squeeze a hop bag, since I think it's asking for trouble.
 

Dr. Dirk

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
5
Location
Edinburgh
Therefore I could make a direct comparison and found the keg to taste cleaner and better than a bottle at least for the first few pours, but it may be my imagination, I find the keg beer gradually looses falvour and aroma over in what seems not a lot of time, a couple of weeks. I find bottles seem to hold flavour and aroma longer and more consistently. I don't force carb, I carefully fill the keg, purge, and then connect CO2 a let it carb for a week, but I still do find the hop aroma drops off noticably within a week after first pour. I haven't tried batch priming a keg, Do you still need to connect up CO2 to get the beer out ?
As I understand it, connecting it to CO2 for a week (?! seems long?) is called forced carbonation, as opposed to keg-conditioning (batch priming and then letting the yeast carb it for you over 2 weeks), which is what I do. I would think if you force carb it (and don't keg-condition), you will definitely lose quality over time due to oxidation, unless your transfer system out of the FV and into the keg is flawless (but in which case there would be no opportunity to squeeze the bags). Batch priming and keg-conditioning lets the yeast take care of the oxygen so it doesn't degrade the beer. I don't notice any dip in quality at the end of a keg, and even get a hefty aromatic, hoppy blast when I open them to clean. That said, after the initial conditioning period of 2 weeks, my keg (corny kegs) rarely last more than a week after I tap them, so there's not alot of time for degradation!

And yes, you do still need CO2 to get the beer out.
 

Dr. Dirk

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
5
Location
Edinburgh
Noting that I am usually one of the first on here to downplay infection risks as part of normal homebrewing practices, and in spite of the wonders of Starsan and its sanitising capability, I don't think I would want to immerse my arm and hand into an FV full of beer to squeeze a hop bag, since I think it's asking for trouble.
I've just brewed batch #120, and have been hand-squeezing hop bags since about batch #15 (about 3 years now) and have never had a bad batch (knocks on wood!). I will often use a spray bottle full of Starsan solution to sanitise surfaces, and keep a bucket of StarSan solution around to refill the spray bottle (it lasts for months). Come bag squeezing time, I dunk my hands in the bucket and use my hands to ensure my forearms are all wet, give it 30 seconds, and have at it. Come to think of it, I remember one time forgetting to put the starsan on my hands before squeezing the bags and still ended up not spoiling the batch. By the dry hopping stage, the beer is already alcoholic, so somewhat resistant to microbes. And I imagine the hopped up beer getting squeezed through my fingers probably killed whatever might have been on them, as hops are also anti-microbial. I would still definitely recommend Starsan on your hands and forearms though! (even more important if you're squeezing the last bits of hoppy goodness out of your boil additions, as the wort is much more susceptible to infection)
 

Dr. Dirk

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
5
Location
Edinburgh
I (even more important if you're squeezing the last bits of hoppy goodness out of your boil additions, as the wort is much more susceptible to infection)
...after the wort has cooled, of course. During the course of the boil, I occasionally use a large SS spoon to squeeze the bags against the side of the kettle.
 

Keruso

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Messages
184
Reaction score
87
As I understand it, connecting it to CO2 for a week (?! seems long?) is called forced carbonation, as opposed to keg-conditioning (batch priming and then letting the yeast carb it for you over 2 weeks), which is what I do. I would think if you force carb it (and don't keg-condition), you will definitely lose quality over time due to oxidation, unless your transfer system out of the FV and into the keg is flawless (but in which case there would be no opportunity to squeeze the bags). Batch priming and keg-conditioning lets the yeast take care of the oxygen so it doesn't degrade the beer. I don't notice any dip in quality at the end of a keg, and even get a hefty aromatic, hoppy blast when I open them to clean. That said, after the initial conditioning period of 2 weeks, my keg (corny kegs) rarely last more than a week after I tap them, so there's not alot of time for degradation!

And yes, you do still need CO2 to get the beer out.
Technically I think your right, there's two methods to force carb.. (1) use a lower level of CO2 pressure and carbonate for a longer period of time, e.g a week. or (2) turn up the PSI and give the keg a shake/roll for 30mins and you're done. Agitating the keg increases the contact area between CO2 and beer even further, promoting faster diffusion of CO2 into the beer. I use method (1) but I do purge out the air after filling using the release valve so I don't think it's an oxygen problem. Its odd though because I think I do get a dip in quality. will have to try the batch prime method.
 

Dr. Dirk

New Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2018
Messages
13
Reaction score
5
Location
Edinburgh
Technically I think your right, there's two methods to force carb.. (1) use a lower level of CO2 pressure and carbonate for a longer period of time, e.g a week. or (2) turn up the PSI and give the keg a shake/roll for 30mins and you're done. Agitating the keg increases the contact area between CO2 and beer even further, promoting faster diffusion of CO2 into the beer. I use method (1) but I do purge out the air after filling using the release valve so I don't think it's an oxygen problem. Its odd though because I think I do get a dip in quality. will have to try the batch prime method.
ah, I see. What pressure do you use? When I forced carbed, I put it at 30psi for somewhere b/t 24 and 36 hours, didn't shake it around though.
 

Keruso

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2018
Messages
184
Reaction score
87
ah, I see. What pressure do you use? When I forced carbed, I put it at 30psi for somewhere b/t 24 and 36 hours, didn't shake it around though.
My kegerator temperature is set at 10c, CO2 at 10 PSI, leave for a week and then serve, getting approx 2 volumes of CO2, serving PSI is also 10 so I just leave the regulator at 10 PSI all the time. Using 30 PSI means you will carbonate far quicker.
 

pottsworth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
173
Reaction score
34
Location
Bromsgrove
As I understand it, connecting it to CO2 for a week (?! seems long?) is called forced carbonation, as opposed to keg-conditioning (batch priming and then letting the yeast carb it for you over 2 weeks), which is what I do. I would think if you force carb it (and don't keg-condition), you will definitely lose quality over time due to oxidation, unless your transfer system out of the FV and into the keg is flawless (but in which case there would be no opportunity to squeeze the bags). Batch priming and keg-conditioning lets the yeast take care of the oxygen so it doesn't degrade the beer. I don't notice any dip in quality at the end of a keg, and even get a hefty aromatic, hoppy blast when I open them to clean. That said, after the initial conditioning period of 2 weeks, my keg (corny kegs) rarely last more than a week after I tap them, so there's not alot of time for degradation!

And yes, you do still need CO2 to get the beer out.
I'm slightly dubious of the ability of yeast to save beer from the effects of oxidation.

The lag phase in primary is normally a few hours, so presumably in bottles it will also take a few hours for the yeast to scavenge all of the oxygen?

Is this not long enough for the oxygen to already have had its effects?
 

foxy

Landlord.
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
Messages
1,623
Reaction score
752
I'm slightly dubious of the ability of yeast to save beer from the effects of oxidation.

The lag phase in primary is normally a few hours, so presumably in bottles it will also take a few hours for the yeast to scavenge all of the oxygen?

Is this not long enough for the oxygen to already have had its effects?
Bottle or keg yeast once in anaerobic mode does not scavenge oxygen when there are sugars available,
they do take up any small amount of DO but that's all.
 

terrym

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2015
Messages
5,618
Reaction score
2,961
Location
North Sussex
Seems this thread has moved on a lot since originally intended to try to give Newbies a bit of an insight into dry hopping.
We have now moved on to oxygen scavenging
What next removing labels from bottles ?ashock1
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest posts

Group Builder
Top