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First Wort Hopping And Beer Aroma

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yankinoz

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I did an experimental first try at first wort hopping, or to be precise an approximation of it adapted to extract brewing; whilst the specialty grains were steeping in a bag I had 25 g of Cascade in the pot but outside the bag (eventual 23 litre batch of American amber ale, target abv 4.7% and target IBUs 26) and I aerated frequently to imitate the conditions of first wort hopping as the mash is poured into the kettle, the aim being oxidation of some of the aromatic oils to comparatively stable forms (according to John Palmer).

The Cascade remained in the kettle and there was no other bittering hopping.

In the interests of isolating the first wort hopping influence, I did no other aroma hopping, only flavor hopping with Nelson Sauvin at -25 minutes.


Fermented with Wyeast 1056, at 17-18 C.

Two weeks after bottling, the IBUs are low, as expected, though there is a moderately sharp finish that will hopefully go away with age (the water has no sulphate).

Results so far: There is a definite citrusy taste along with a little grape from Nelson Sauvin, but it is not the typical Cascade taste and aroma; what I got is more literally citrusy, rather like lemon peel, but quite pleasant and not suggestive of infection. So aromatic oils did survive a 70 minute boil, but as well as being altered the aroma contribution is weaker than it would be from a late addition of the same amount of Cascade.

Verdict so far: a beer for hopheads made this way would use an awful lot of hops, bur for less assertive styles the approach is promising. The hop aroma and flavor matched well with malt flavors from carared and dark crystal. In an APA they'd probably get lost.

I'll soon repeat in a partial mash batch.

Any other experiences with first wort hopping?
 

hoppy2B

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Fill saucepan with a couple of litres of water. Drop hops into saucepan and place on lid. Bring saucepan to the boil and turn off heat, leave to cool. Remove hops and place in brew kettle and boil for 60 - 90. Add hop tea from saucepan to kettle to help cool the kettle down. You can even make ice blocks out of the hop tea. I've never done anything different and probably never will. :)
 

yankinoz

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Fill saucepan with a couple of litres of water. Drop hops into saucepan and place on lid. Bring saucepan to the boil and turn off heat, leave to cool. Remove hops and place in brew kettle and boil for 60 - 90. Add hop tea from saucepan to kettle to help cool the kettle down. You can even make ice blocks out of the hop tea. I've never done anything different and probably never will. :)
I've used hop tea at various times in the boil, including early additions. It has a different effect that what the experiment resulted in, whether better or worse will depend on tastes. If Palmer is correct (he's wise but presumably fallible), the key to first wort hopping is oxidation of some components of hop oil; their aroma changes but they become less volatile and liable to be lost in the boil. When you make hop tea, how much aeration does it get before adding to the boil?
 

hoppy2B

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I don't think Palmer would use the word aeration when talking about wort at mash out temps unless he is saying to avoid it.
 

yankinoz

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I don't think Palmer would use the word aeration when talking about wort at mash out temps unless he is saying to avoid it.
What he says early in Ch 5 is that first wort hopping allows oxidation of hop oils, that being in a mash out as long as a half hour; in other words oxidation in this context is good. The method seemed counterintuitive to me, but I had miscellaneous hops and malts to use and thought I'd try the experiment. I did extract and steeping because I had no base malt to use up.
 

hoppy2B

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I agree. Alpha acid isomerization is also termed as oxidation.
I think all the hype regarding aeration is perhaps slightly overdone. In fact I believe carbonation of beer is possibly just as bad if not worst for long term storage flavour stability.
 

yankinoz

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I agree. Alpha acid isomerization is also termed as oxidation.
I think all the hype regarding aeration is perhaps slightly overdone. In fact I believe carbonation of beer is possibly just as bad if not worst for long term storage flavour stability.
As I understand the biochemistry, aeration is a problem once the primary fermentation is underway, and from then on. Still, I've seen breweries fermenting in open vats and making good beer.

Interesting point about stability and carbonation: do you mean too much is harmful, or too little? I've had Brit old ales four or more years old, and none had much carbonation.

A note: In my experiment I only aerated the steeping liquid surrounding the grain bag, not the specialty malts.
 

hoppy2B

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As I understand the biochemistry, aeration is a problem once the primary fermentation is underway, and from then on. Still, I've seen breweries fermenting in open vats and making good beer.

Interesting point about stability and carbonation: do you mean too much is harmful, or too little? I've had Brit old ales four or more years old, and none had much carbonation.

A note: In my experiment I only aerated the steeping liquid surrounding the grain bag, not the specialty malts.
I think what happens over time is that carbonated beer becomes flat and develops a slimy mouth feel.
Brit beer might not be a good example to judge that theory against though because Brit beers tend to be flatter than other types.
 

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