I used to use plugs for late additions and pellets for bittering additions. Got sick of the amount of crap in the boiler so now I just use pellets, can't say I have notice any appreciable decline in flavour and aroma although this may be change depending on the hop type. Cascade certainly doesnt seem to lose much.
Well I changed to pellets for the same reason wee stu Im guessing that the hop flavours aromas may not be as pronounsed with an A.G. brew due to the added flavours of the grains. well I recon I will stick with them for now cos I recon flowers would be a bitch In my boiler.Cheers Jethro
I've used the lot Flowers, Plugs and Pellets.
Lately it has been all pellets because that is what is available in the varietys I've been buying. Also I bought back 4kg from NZ and the only way to get them in the country easily was with pellets.
A SS scourer on the pickup tube in my boiler works a treat with flowers and plugs but clogs with pellets.
I recently bought some fish bags from an Asian Grocery store (I think they are for fish head soup) and I've been attaching them to the tap on the kettle when running to the fermenter. They work great as a filter.
If you live in East Kent and had access to freshly dried hop flowers there is a very slim chance you might, if the wind is blowing in the correct direction detect a difference between flowers and pellets. However you don't and you live [most of us] many kilometres from the hop fields so "if" you get flowers or plugs there is a very real chance they have already lost a percentage of their essential oils.
For me over the many beers I've made using both flowers and pellets I cannot detect any appreciable difference.
In a blind test I defy any homebrewer with no prior knowledge of the brewer or beer to accurately pick the type of hops used in a brew. There are so many other variables involved to pin flowers or pellets to a brew.
There is no difference in bittering, flavour or aroma ..... no difference at all.
There is something nice about seeing the hop flowers racing around in the kettle but apart from that there is no real advantage in my brewing system. I use a SS scrubby to filter flowers or pellets. If you use a pump you may need to pre filter to avoid clogging the works.
Storing pellets requires far less freezer space and barrier packed they last a very long time.
If you think flowers or plugs make a better beer for you, then they do.