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Old 01-10-2009, 02:56 AM   #1
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Default Using pellets in a hop bag

I'm drinking a batch currently that is the only repeat of a recipe that I've ever done. I tried very hard to follow the recipe exactly, used the same ingredients, the same thermometer, same water, everything except I used a hop bag this time, and the first time just tossed them in the pot. I also strained the wort through a paint strainer when I poured into the fermenter, which I did not do the first time. I used another hop back when I dry-hopped it for a week too, whereas in attempt 1 I just tossed the pellets in the bucket. These two brews are as different as night and day! The first attempt resulted in a beautiful red ale with a slight citrus hint (Cascade hops) and which got absolute rave reviews from everyone that had a mug. This one is not as red (the second mug was redder than the first, which I had a couple of days ago though), has no citrus character, and just generally isn't going to have anyone raving about it.
So... I guess this gives me another reason to brew it. I'll go back to my old ways with it and see if it more closely resembles attempt 1 or 2.
Has anyone else had a similar experience when doing a repeat batch?

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Old 01-10-2009, 04:27 AM   #2
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I've done the "same" recipe five times, but they're only subtly different (except for #2, which was horribly chlorophenolic).

Maybe the temperature during dry-hopping had something to do with it. But now you know that the hop sack is not worth the trouble.

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Old 01-10-2009, 04:40 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 944play View Post
I've done the "same" recipe five times, but they're only subtly different (except for #2, which was horribly chlorophenolic).

Maybe the temperature during dry-hopping had something to do with it. But now you know that the hop sack is not worth the trouble.
How is a hop sack "that much trouble"? I think it makes for "cleaner" beer...I don't always use one but I wouldn't think that the hops are going to change the color of the beer...things done in the brewing process and fermenting would contribute more to the final product. Fermenting temps do make a big difference on flavor tho...I have found that out. Here in AZ it can be a project to keep my fermenting temps low which I tasted the difference in the "same" reciepes I have done.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:13 PM   #4
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I was curious about trying to filter the wort going into the primary, I would think the aroma hops would still be doing their thing in primary and filtering them out would put a halt to that?

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Old 01-10-2009, 12:24 PM   #5
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You may be right, and this may be what my problem with this beer is. I did dry hop it (hops in a suspended bag in the corny I secondaried in) but *it* just isn't there.
I just checked my notes and besides using a bag and filtering into the fermenter I left it in the primary 8 days longer the second time (18 as opposed to 10 days with round one) and in the secondary 2x as long. When I brew this the 3rd time I will revert to my old "toss everything in" technique and follow the time schedule of round one exactly. I ferment in the same place and use all the same equipment so that should increase my chances of a closer match to the results I got with the first attempt.
I did think the bag and the filtering would help with clarity, but to tell you the truth I have never brewed a clearer brew than attempt one was anyway so I don't know why I thought I should do this. Experimenting I guess.

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Old 01-10-2009, 12:41 PM   #6
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As the owner of a CFC, I always use a paint strainer mesh bag to contain my hops. If I only have one hop addition I'll just use a hop bag and drop it in. I've heard palmer and jamil discuss hop bags and they don't really like them, they say the hops need to be free, but it seems like more of a gut feeling than definitive results. I usually listen to everything they say but it isn't worth a clog in the chiller/pump.

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Old 01-10-2009, 12:54 PM   #7
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Do you use the same amount of hops as you would without the bag? Do you think you're getting the planned for IBUs?

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Old 01-10-2009, 01:36 PM   #8
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I don't have hard data on the matter by any means but I have noticed a significant utilization drop when I started using hop bags. It's not a problem of IBUs but I feel like the short boil additions for flavor and especially aroma are being compromised using the bags.

Of course, the external heat exchange type chillers really require some level of filtration before hitting the bulkhead. If you're IC-chilling, it's a no brainer to just let the hops swim. If you drain via bulkhead, you'll just need some very coarse filtration like the choreboy scrubby. I have a plate chiller so I'm planning to build a "hop taco" out of some 30x30 stainless mesh. If that ends up being too fine and gets clogged, I'll back off to a 16x16 mesh. Any particle that gets through that will probably flow through a chiller just fine also.

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Old 01-10-2009, 01:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
I was curious about trying to filter the wort going into the primary, I would think the aroma hops would still be doing their thing in primary and filtering them out would put a halt to that?
No, aroma hops added at the end of the boil doing their job in the kettle. Keeping them in the primary after doesn't hurt, but doesn't give any additional hop notes. Primary fermentation would scrub out any additional aroma, that's why you dry hop after fermentation

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I don't have hard data on the matter by any means but I have noticed a significant utilization drop when I started using hop bags. It's not a problem of IBUs but I feel like the short boil additions for flavor and especially aroma are being compromised using the bags.
I also noticed less "hoppiness" when I used hops bag. I don't have a CFC or a bulkhead fitting to clog, so I just toss the hops in. Instead of a traditional hops bag where the hops may not be loose enough, some people make a great big hops sack and suspend it over the kettle with some screws. I'll see if I can find a picture.

One thing I noticed was when you use pellet hops in a bag, it seems like the wort just does go through the bag that easily. I think that is why I noticed lower utilization.
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post

One thing I noticed was when you use pellet hops in a bag, it seems like the wort just does go through the bag that easily. I think that is why I noticed lower utilization.

......

The wort was able to go through the bag easily, but that caused low utilization? Can you please clarify?
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