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Old 07-04-2011, 09:56 PM   #1
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Default Pellet Hops: Am I Missing Anything?

I'm into batch 12 and realized I've never used "real" hops for brewing, just the pellets, as BMW is my supplier and they don't carry them. Should I give them a try in the next batch or just keep pelletizing? Would I notice the difference if I did an identical batch with natural hops?

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Old 07-04-2011, 10:00 PM   #2
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Only one way to find out! Make identical batches - one with pellets and one with whole hops!

I know Austin Homebrew has started selling fresh wet hops on pre-order. Although it looks like they might not be available until September: http://www.austinhomebrew.com/product_info.php?cPath=178_21_93_204&products_id=1 2662

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Old 07-04-2011, 10:06 PM   #3
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Give them a try. I used them once and couldnt tell a difference but I also just bought 5 pounds of whole hops so I am going to really try them for the first time myself

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Old 07-05-2011, 03:54 AM   #4
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There is definitely a difference but there is also a tradeoff. Leaf imparts a smoother flavor in both the boil & dry hop but will soak up more wort and makes it much more difficult to wash yeast. Pellet is a bit harsher but much easier to use.

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Old 07-05-2011, 07:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanaandy View Post
There is definitely a difference but there is also a tradeoff. Leaf imparts a smoother flavor in both the boil & dry hop but will soak up more wort and makes it much more difficult to wash yeast. Pellet is a bit harsher but much easier to use.
Pellets are not really harsher in my opinion. Their utilization rate is just higher than whole hops since they are mascerated (chewed up) by the pelletizing process and more of the lupulin is in contact with the wort. Most brewing programs have a built in factor that adjusts for the differences in utilization between whole and pellet hops.

Whole hops are a nice addition when you are brewing a beer with a lot of hop additions. A little bit of whole hops in the trub pile helps bind the pile together and reduces the trub leaving with the runoff.

Pellets hops should ALWAYS have better storage characteristics than whole hops. I prefer pellet hops in most cases since I find they are fresher. Of course, if you can get some really fresh whole hops, that would be best for freshness. Just recognize that they go down hill faster and won't give you as much bittering power.
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Old 07-06-2011, 01:34 AM   #6
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I have brewed identical beers back to back, with the only difference being that one beer had pellet hops, and the other beer had leaf hops. (Isn't anecdotal evidence great?)

There was no perceptible difference in the taste of the beer.

The only differences were trivial: the first glass pulled from the keg of the pellet hop beer had some hop particles in it, and in the beer was leaf hops, there was a minor loss of beer to leaf hops.

If I was making an insanely hopped IPA, I would choose pellet hops just because of the significant amount of beer that would be lost to the leaf hops.

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Old 07-06-2011, 02:50 AM   #7
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I have brewed identical beers back to back, with the only difference being that one beer had pellet hops, and the other beer had leaf hops. (Isn't anecdotal evidence great?)

There was no perceptible difference in the taste of the beer.

The only differences were trivial: the first glass pulled from the keg of the pellet hop beer had some hop particles in it, and in the beer was leaf hops, there was a minor loss of beer to leaf hops.

If I was making an insanely hopped IPA, I would choose pellet hops just because of the significant amount of beer that would be lost to the leaf hops.
I will respectfully disagree with your assertion that there is no taste/olfactory difference between the use of leaf and pellet hops. Here is my suggestion - brew the same beer using leaf in one batch and pellet in the other. Submit them for judging and listen to what the judges have to say. The beers that I have brewed that have won awards have been overwhelmingly been leaf based. There are definitely certain nuances that one can achieve with brewing with leaf (fresh, not necessarily wet) that one cannot achieve with pellet. Granted, leaf is a PITA in many respects and I love pellet for its ease of use but compressing those leafs into pellets results in a loss of flavor, albeit small in most cases but a loss nonetheless.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:34 PM   #8
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If it weren't for the crazy amount of freezer space they take up, I would be all about the whole hops, because the aroma is wonderful (no claim to scientific evidence here). I like to have a wide variety of hops on hand at all times, and at this point I simply wouldn't have room to store them if I went all whole hops. As is, I just use them for a few flavor/aroma favorites at this point. To me, the storage volume is their only downside however.

I generally pour my wort into a paint strainer bag to catch the hops after cooling, and I actually find it a lot easier to strain and ring out the wort from the whole hops than pellets (which tend to clog the strainer), so I don't really experience the wort loss that some folks say get with whole hops; if anything, they work better for me in that regard, but I guess it depends on your particular process.

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Old 07-09-2011, 12:16 AM   #9
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I can't stand leaf hops, but I have 6lbs to use up.


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Old 07-09-2011, 12:30 AM   #10
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I brewed one beer with 3 ounces of whole cones and it turned out great. Going to brew this one again with the cones. I can't get whole at the lhbs tho. I am going to stick with whole for my dry hopping because it was a painless bottling day. I am not really worried about a cup or two of beer. Ill just brew moooaar.

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