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Old 02-02-2009, 10:39 AM   #1
Pelikan
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Default Leaf Hops: What do they absorb?

I just did a heavily-hopped batch recently, with whole/leaf hops. I noticed they absorbed quite a bit of wort, something to the tune of about .5 gallons between ~5 ounces of hops.

So I'm wondering, did they absorb the wort in all its glory, or just water? In other words, is the wort that I'm left with in the same balance that I had intended, or are the sugars, etc, now concentrated due to the action of the hops? I'm debating whether or not to top off the primary before fermentation really kicks into high gear.

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Last edited by Pelikan; 02-02-2009 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:54 AM   #2
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I did a bit of research, and that amount of hops probably absorbed something like a quart of water, so my starter should have taken care of that. I may have gotten a bit more boil-off than I anticipated.

Either way, I just topped up to five gallons, to be on the safe side. There was already steady bubbling from the blow-off tube, but if the wort had been concentrated -- either from hops or boil off -- I didn't want to stress them out. Worse case = somewhat less potency in an already über-potent brew. Best case = yeast saved from the stress of super high OG.

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Old 02-02-2009, 11:00 AM   #3
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Yeah, whole hops will absorb a fair bit of wort; you have to adjust for kettle loss when calculating your volumes. In my system, I collect 8 gallons of wort to boil down to 6 gallons at flameout, with 5.5 going into the fermenter for a final 5 gallons in the package. My gravities are all dependent on these numbers.

Did you take a gravity reading going into the fermenter, either with your hydrometer or your refractometer? This would have determined the amount of water necessary to hit your OG before pitching the yeast.

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Old 02-02-2009, 11:26 AM   #4
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The game was about to start when I went to put it in the primary, so I didn't take a reading this time, as I've been hitting it pretty spot on of late. But I just got a host of new equipment, and it seems I have to get the feel for it again.

Either way, I don't think the top-off to 5 gallons is going to throw the recipe dramatically in one direction or other. But in the future I've gotta get that refractometer out every time!

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Old 02-02-2009, 01:43 PM   #5
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Since leaf hops lose about 80% of their weight while drying, figure 4X wort absorption. Since the sugars are much bigger than water, I doubt there is much of a loss there.

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