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Thinking of ditching hop socks

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TowelBoy2013

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Recently brewed up a 17L batch of lager using fresh hops from the garden, followed all the advise i watched on YouTube, forums etc. Added 145g fresh dried hops for a bittering addition and 100g fresh dried hops as a dry-hop after 10 days. Now, i've always used a hop-sock to keep the hops in so i don't get any floaties going into the FV. Took a test sip after a week in bottle and the hop profile is zero. So I'm assuming i've buggered up something along the way, My question is as follows:- Would i have been better to have just throw the hops in without the bag so as to give more surface area, or is it an Isomerization issue?
 

nosco

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I use a hop bag but a very big one so the hops can swim around. I lime using the bag so i can squeeze out all the wort at the end. I use a silicone glove so i end up with a solid ball of used hops.

I have read on here that the hops can help hold the trub cone together after a whirlpool. So next brew im going to throw them in lose. Nothing to do with hop utilisation.
 

Schikitar

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Did you 'rough up' your hops before putting them into the bag? It can assist with getting the good stuff all over the leaves and into your beer.. probably wouldn't make a huge difference but might help. I know the quantities are somewhat debated, I seem to remember a pro brewer telling me 7-8 times the weight of pellets as a rough guide..
 

hoppy2B

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Pellets will give you more bang for your buck than whole cones. Put your hops through a blender. You can even sift the blendered hop cones down to half their volume and retain nearly all the lupullin in the process.

I normally free ball my hops, although I did buy a big hop spider from Beerbelly that I will use next time I do a big enough batch in my keg.

Things that may have affected the OP's hop utilisation include: How the hops were stored; The material the hop bag was made of; Variety of hops; and so on.
 

fdsaasdf

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I normally free ball my hops, although I did buy a big hop spider from Beerbelly that I will use next time I do a big enough batch in my keg.
This will significantly impact on hop utilisation. Especially if you're doing big aroma/flavour additions.

The last straw for my hop spider was after trying an identical recipe throwing 250g pellets in loose to whirlpool and the resulting IPA had gobfuls more hoppiness in every tasting from hydrometer through to the last pour from the keg.
 
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hoppy2B

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This will significantly impact on hop utilisation. Especially if you're doing big aroma/flavour additions.

The last straw for my hop spider was after trying an identical recipe throwing 250g pellets in loose to whirlpool and the resulting IPA had gobfuls more hoppiness in every tasting from hydrometer through to the last pour from the keg.
Have you tried jiggling the hop spider? I read one brewers report in the US that said they jiggled their dry hops and only left them in for 4-6 hours. I don't want my hop spider to be a waste of money. :eek:
 

welly2

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I used a hop spider a couple of times. It was certainly better for cleaning up at the end of the brew day but found that hop profile in every aspect - aroma, flavour and bitterness - was lacking so gave that up as a bad job. I know other people have had plenty of success with them so could be down to any number of other variants. Who knows...
 

Rocker1986

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Whenever I use my home grown flowers in the boil, I've got a home made mesh cover made from a nut that screws onto the end of the ball valve threaded pipe on the inside of the urn. It looks like a really tiny hop spider. This allows me to throw them in loose and not get any blocking the valve when draining it. The flowers do seem to do a good job of blocking the hot break from getting out too. I did a pale ale with all home grown Cascade flowers last year, it was nice but I should have used more hops for bittering. Flavor was good though I didn't dry hop it. All part of the fun of experimenting. On a previous batch I tried using an old grain bag to contain them but somehow it fucked the boil off rate which is why I decided to make the cover instead.

When I use pellets I have a home made hop spider that was made from a Craftbrewer hop sock and a bit of stainless wire. It works fine and I have no complaints about the hop influence; beers turn out as intended.

As for dry hopping, I've done both commando and used those tea strainer mesh balls and haven't noticed a great deal of difference.

I guess it's just up to the individual what works and what doesn't for their own tastes.
 

TowelBoy2013

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Actually, it just occured to me that while my whole hops were in the freezer i checked them and noticed that the zip-lock had opened thus introducing oxygen to the previously vacuum-sealed bag, could have been like this for weeks. Perhaps a reason why there was SFA hop profile.
 

Ross

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I doubt using the hop spider or not would have made any appreciable difference. The question is, how aromatic were the home grown hops in the first place, what variety were they & how much lupulin did they contain? You'll only get out what you put in...
 
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fungrel

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I doubt using the hop spider or not would have made any appreciable difference. The question is, how aromatic were the home grown hops in the first place, what variety were they & how much lupulin did they contain? You'll only get out what you put in...
In my experience, hops are just like growing tomatoes. Anyone can grow tomatoes, takes skill to do it well.
 
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MHB

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Never been a fan of hop spiders, they do reduce what you get from the hops, that probably applies to Bitterness/Utilisation, taste and aroma. Problem is there is really no way to tell how much effect it will have without some way to measure what you are getting. Add to that having no idea what the hops you are using contain... well its hard to blame the hop spider.

The "Standard" difference in yield between T-90 Pellets and loose hops is to use 10-15% more loose hops, not 7-8 times.
Sifting can be used to enrich hops (like in making T-90 and T-45 pellets (90 & 45% respectively of the hop cone)) but it isn't a kitchen sink process, it involves cooling and milling the hops while cold, the hops need to be kept under -35oC for the milling and sifting for T-90 and under -78oC (dry ice) to make T-45 pellets.
Mark
 
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Schikitar

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The "Standard" difference in yield between T-90 Pellets and loose hops is to use 10-15% more loose hops, not 7-8 times.
Out of curiosity are you suggesting 10-15% more based on wet or dry hops? I was referring to wet hops which I believe you need to increase the ratio..
 

MHB

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Ah in that case all the rules go out the window and you get to make it up as you go along!
I would be very cautious using "Wet" hops, the chlorophyll hasn't denatured and could give some very interesting and unexpected flavours (read grassy...), not being a hop grower I will have to let you will work that out for your self.
The 10-15% was based in dry whole hops, or T-100 Plugs against T-90 Pellets.
You would have to look up the moisture content at harvest and compare it to the normal dry hop moisture content, should give you a rough idea of where to start.
Sorry didn't realise you were talking about wet hops - makes more sense now
Mark
 

Schikitar

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Yeah, my bad, I didn't state that either - I've only ever used wet hops (from my mates garden) and not very often, haven't used dried hops and it's good to know the rough amount to account for in regards to pellets so I appreciate the info. I agree about the grassiness though, I don't think I'll use wet hops again as a result!
 

Dredd

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I deliberated on this a while ago and ran a test. The conclusion was pitching pellets whole is the best way to go.

This does require a bit more patience for settling and cold crashing to reduce sediment prior to kegging. I like to remove the variable of hop socks and the flavour/oxidation variability it can bring.

Below is a summary of the test:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have almost concluded hop bags are a waste of time, the "best bits" seem stuck in the bag once I have kegged and the goodness is there once squeezed so I might as well pitch and let gravity take care of the rest.

I've decided to run a test comparing solubility of pellet vs ground hops. I've added 1g of pellets to 70ml of water and 1g of crushed pellets to 70ml of water. I'll monitor over a few days to see how much aroma appears to come from both and how well they dissolve and settle.

Findings
So the verdict? I have attached before and after. The before shows that the hop pellets fell to the bottom of the glass while the ground pellets clouded the water.

Testing the aroma a few days on, I was surprised that the appearance ended up very similar. The aroma's were also different. The pellet hops had a gentler aroma, the ground hops were a little acrid, almost as if undesirable oils were released in the process.

Of course, dropping pellets into the fermenter has its own complexities.

But considering the evidence - I can't see any benefit from hop bags or grinding.
IMG_20161220_203204.jpg00002IMG_00002_BURST20161224161032.jpg
 

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