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Old 02-03-2013, 09:57 PM   #1
ImperialStout
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Default First Wort Hopping question

Maybe it is just me but I find the directions to doing FWH a little confusing. Got this brew tip the other day that reads in part:

FWH involves adding a portion of the hops to the boiler at the very beginning of the sparging process, allowing these hops to steep as the sparging completes and remaining in the kettle throughout the boil. Add the hops to the boiler as soon as you have finished recirculating the first runnings.

My guess is 30% of your flavour and aroma hops is added to the wort in the brew pot you just collected from draining the mash tun the first time, letting them steep while the grain in the mash tun is then sparged, about a half hour.

Anyone use FWH? How did it work for you?

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Old 02-04-2013, 12:04 AM   #2
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I haven't done it yet, but my next brew calls for it.
Time is 75 minutes in a 60 minute boil... I guess they figure 15 minutes for batch sparge.
Yeah, weird directions, but it's supposed to be really good.

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Old 02-04-2013, 12:36 AM   #3
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Wow. Seems like they are purposely trying to make it complicated.

Basically all you do is toss some hops in the kettle while you are bringing it up to a boil. If you batch sparge, then just toss them in after the first runnings. If you fly sparge, toss them in 15 minutes before you would normally finish sparging.

I don't know if I notice a big difference with FWHing. I make mostly really hoppy beers, so a little extra aroma from an ounce of early hops doesn't really stand out. It does provide a pretty smooth bitterness though

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Old 02-04-2013, 12:52 AM   #4
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I FWH'd on 2 of my most recent batches for the first time. Both are still in primary so I can't comment on any flavor differences. But for process, I added my bittering "60 min" hops to my first runnings while fly sparging.

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Old 02-04-2013, 09:58 AM   #5
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I've FWH'd at least a 100 times. Put the hops in the kettle before you start sparging and let them sit there throughout. Use Beersmith to calculate IBUs, simply setting them to FWH and how long they're in the boil. It's nothing complicated, but like many things in brewing, not everyone agrees on how it's done or why. I use it basically as my bittering hop for a softer bittering when I want that, which is very often. I use aroma/flavor hops as normal. Some people reduce them. I've found FWH does give a little flavor and aroma, but not a helluva lot.

Anyway, just give it a go. Toss 'em in there before you sparge. Hence the "first wort" in FWH.

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Old 02-08-2013, 02:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattHollingsworth View Post
Use Beersmith to calculate IBUs, simply setting them to FWH and how long they're in the boil.
I use FWH for many beers too because of the smooth bittering. But I disagree with Beersmith's IBU calulations. I've found that a more accurate calculation is to enter 20 mins for the FWH setting and that seems to get you a more accurate IBU rating. This is based purely on taste, no scientific data.
If it wasn't so much work we could do a test. One batch only first wort hopped, and the second hopped for the traditional 60 minute boil.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:24 AM   #7
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I think FWH is really misunderstood and overblown.

It adds a bit more bitterness, for one thing. I believe 20% more bitterness is about correct - as compared to normal boiling hops.

I *believe* it adds a smoother bitterness, and I'm sure it does - but I feel that a lot of that smoothness is a bit of placebo effect.

I've read and heard that it adds flavor, also - but I simply don't agree with that. I've read that it adds flavor like a 20 minute hop addition, and I don't see how it does that. For one thing, 20 minute boiling hops don't add much at all for hop flavor, anyway - and the fact is, the hop oils are getting boiled the entire time, anyway. 20 minute hop additions don't really add much for hop flavor, since it goes up in steam so quickly.

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Old 02-08-2013, 02:40 AM   #8
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I'm a little in the dark on the subject... But in my assumptions it would just be more time for the volatile flavor and aroma to evaporate from the wort. Forgive my noobness if evaporate is completely the wrong word, disintegrate, disassociate, idk. I could see doing it to pick up a few extra IBU's, but in such an inconsistent way (varies with ambient temp/mash temp, spare time, how long it talks to get the wort to a boil, etc.) that I would prefer just using a few extra hops in the boil.

I'm not trying to knock the practice, just trying to understand why it's worth it, how does it make the bitterness smoother? doesn't Isomerzation occur at 175 & up, and isn't all Isomerzation the same? Just dissolving alpha acids.

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Old 02-08-2013, 05:49 AM   #9
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I've used FWH in many of my brews. Sometimes when I FWH, I only add 0.5 OZ for FWH and then add a traditional 1.0 OZ at 60 minutes, and I also FHW with 1.0 OZ and then start early with my my aroma/bittering (hop bursting) hops around 20-30 minutes to impart the desired amount of bittering. I usually brew IPAs and am continuing to experiment with just a FWH and the earlier additions at 20-30. I have found FWH to be smooth bittering but can't verify any extra aroma or lack there of. My IPAs taste good and have big, you could say layered, hop flavor. Rumor has it that Sierra Nevada uses FWH in their ales.

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Old 02-08-2013, 06:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasontheBeaver View Post
I use FWH for many beers too because of the smooth bittering. But I disagree with Beersmith's IBU calulations. I've found that a more accurate calculation is to enter 20 mins for the FWH setting and that seems to get you a more accurate IBU rating. This is based purely on taste, no scientific data.
If it wasn't so much work we could do a test. One batch only first wort hopped, and the second hopped for the traditional 60 minute boil.
I had two beers that were analyzed in a lab that used FWH, and Beersmith is pretty accurate. They don't calculate as a 20 minute addition.
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