Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Wet" Dry Hop Experiment

Hello, my name is Mark and I'm a 'hop head'. I have to admit, when it concerns my pale ales, a serious charge of late addition hops is a flavor I relish in my west coast style ales.

I really enjoy my India Pale Ales and double IPA's and sometimes (depending on the recipe) my pale ales with an addition of hops in the keg after carbonation. My dry hopping procedures have gone through an evolution over the years and for the moment, I believe I have reach the apex of my late hopping success.

As I consider my earlier brewing experiences, I recall my original technique was to place a fist full of pellet hops in a hop bag, drop in a kitchen utensil like a table knife (don't tell my wife) to weight it down and wedge the bag into the carboy I used as my secondary fermenter. At the time, it served me relatively well. That was during the short and painful period that I bottled my beer. As time went on, the kegerator pushed bottling out of the equation and I opted for going from my primary fermenter directly to the kegs. This forced me to dry hop in the keg. Well, dropping a loaded charge of weighted hops to the bottom of a keg can quickly plug the tube that brings beer to my mug. I didn't like that idea much. My old ways needed to be revised again, so I tied a length of waxed dental floss to the bag (thanks B.P.), lowered the bag inside the keg to within several inches of the outflow tube and tie off the other end to the handle of the keg. With the lid securely in place and the keg pressurized I was soon enjoying my beer again, and the world was at peace. The down side was the sometimes astringent, vegetal, grassyness that this system caused.

I needed a new plan. So where does a perplexed homebrewer go for a solution to these dilemmas? Your brew club members for one and your on-line homebrewing community of course. In this case, I read about a process on one of the discussion board, or or or maybe all of them over time and I discovered the idea of the 'wet' dry hopping. From what I could gather after reading many postings, hops are placed in hot water (170f.) for a period of time and then put in the keg along with the cup or so of hop liquid. I had to try.

With my recent 'Pliney the Elder' IIPA clone in the keg, I followed the steps, placing 1/2 oz of Sorachi hops in a cup of hot water for a period of time and then into a s.s. tea ball that I dropped into the keg along with the hop/water 'soup' that I collected. The results..... a nice intense hop flavor and aroma but with a very integrated flavor and mouth feel. None of the astringency or grassyness that I have experienced when using the hops directly. A very pleasant experience. I highly recommend this technique and welcome your personal experience. Leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

I like that!!! Tea ball is a great idea.
I will try this for sure next time.

Anthony said...

Did you put the hops in the tea ball first before putting in the water or did you put the hops directly into water and then add more hops to your tea ball?

Beer Diary... said...

Hi Anthony,
In this case I placed the hops pellets in the tea ball and lowered the tea ball into the hot water for a couple of minutes. At that point I lowered the tea ball into the keg and poured the hop liquid that you see in the bowl into the keg also.

Aaron Ouellette - said...

About how much liquid do you use?

Mark Taylor said...

Hi Aaron,
I didn't use an exact amount of liquid. I just wanted to cover the hop in the hot water to extract the flavor. I would guess about a cup of water was needed to do that for a 5 gallon corney.

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