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Old 03-12-2012, 02:18 PM   #1
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Default first time dry hopping (and secondary) questions

I'm brewing the orval clone from the clone brews book and there are a couple of changes to those I've brewed before (I'm an extract brewer and this is my third batch).

Firstly, it says to transfer to a secondary after 7 days or when fermentation is nearly complete. I've never used a secondary before (and I know there are lots of threads saying they aren't needed) but I'm tempted to go with it this time as its all extra experience and I've seen some comments about needing a secondary when dry hopping. so two questions:

1) Do i need to transfer to dry hop or is there no benefit?
2) How do i know when fermentation is "nearly complete" or should I just use the 7 day figure?

With regard to dry hopping, I've never done it before and the guy in the lhbs only had the bags for steeping grains so gave (sold) me an extra one of them for my dry hopping. Based on the size of the hop pellets, i'm not sure it will contain them as they look like they will slip through gaps in the mesh as they dissolve/hydrate. So the three questions on dry hopping:

3) Do I need to use the grain bag for the dry hop pellets
4) If I use a bag do I need to put a weight in with the pellets to get them below the surface?
5) Do I need to sanatise the pellet bag?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 03-12-2012, 02:37 PM   #2
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1) It's your call but dry hopping adds a lot of flavor or aroma to your beer.
2) You should be measuring your gravity with a hydrometer. that will tell you when fermentation is done. if you don't know how to use one then check youtube for some videos on it.

3)No
4)yes it's a good idea. sanitized marbles or stainless steel nuts and bolts work well.
5)yes

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Old 03-12-2012, 02:40 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Tiredboy View Post
I'm brewing the orval clone from the clone brews book and there are a couple of changes to those I've brewed before (I'm an extract brewer and this is my third batch).

Firstly, it says to transfer to a secondary after 7 days or when fermentation is nearly complete. I've never used a secondary before (and I know there are lots of threads saying they aren't needed) but I'm tempted to go with it this time as its all extra experience and I've seen some comments about needing a secondary when dry hopping. so two questions:

1) Do i need to transfer to dry hop or is there no benefit?
2) How do i know when fermentation is "nearly complete" or should I just use the 7 day figure?

With regard to dry hopping, I've never done it before and the guy in the lhbs only had the bags for steeping grains so gave (sold) me an extra one of them for my dry hopping. Based on the size of the hop pellets, i'm not sure it will contain them as they look like they will slip through gaps in the mesh as they dissolve/hydrate. So the three questions on dry hopping:

3) Do I need to use the grain bag for the dry hop pellets
4) If I use a bag do I need to put a weight in with the pellets to get them below the surface?
5) Do I need to sanatise the pellet bag?

Thanks in advance.

1) You do not need to transfer to dry-hop. Some people do, some don't. It should be fine either way.

2) DO NOT TRANSFER UNTIL PRIMARY FERMENT IS DONE!. You can check this with a hyrdometer. Many times it is completed after 7-days but you should try to be sure. If you transfer to early you can cause problems. Personally I would wait at least 14 days in primary before transferring to secondary, if at all.

3) You do not need to use a bag, but it can help keep things from getting messy. Even if some hops get through it should be ok. Is the bag nylon or muslin (cloth like)?

4). The bag with hops should eventually sink without weights but it might take a week to do so. If you have something Stainless Steel like a washer that is usually the safest thing to use. Sanitize the weights.

5) Definitely sanitize the hops bag! I prefer to boil them for about 5 minutes, but a sanitizer would work also.
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiredboy View Post

1) Do i need to transfer to dry hop or is there no benefit?
2) How do i know when fermentation is "nearly complete" or should I just use the 7 day figure?

With regard to dry hopping, I've never done it before and the guy in the lhbs only had the bags for steeping grains so gave (sold) me an extra one of them for my dry hopping. Based on the size of the hop pellets, i'm not sure it will contain them as they look like they will slip through gaps in the mesh as they dissolve/hydrate. So the three questions on dry hopping:

3) Do I need to use the grain bag for the dry hop pellets
4) If I use a bag do I need to put a weight in with the pellets to get them below the surface?
5) Do I need to sanatise the pellet bag?

Thanks in advance.
1. It doesn't matter. But if you do choose to transfer to dryhop, you only want the hops sitting in the beer for a week to 10 days. So, either add the hops for the last week, or only use the secondary for a week.
2. Check the SG and/or wait for the beer to start to clear before racking to the bright tank ("secondary"). Then you'll know it's done.
3. I don't. I just add the hops. But I am extremely proficient with racking (I'm an old winemaker) and never have an issue.
4. No. Just make sure they are very "loose" in any bag so that the beer can permeate through them. Pellet hops disintegrate and some float and some sink. Leaf hops tend to float, somewhat submerged. That's all fine.
5. Of course.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:14 PM   #5
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you don't have to transfer, but the orval clone calls for some brett after primary fermentation. you'll definitely want to transfer off the yeast cake if you are going to be adding brett and letting it sit for months (or even a year). if you do let it sit, don't dry hop until 3-10 days before bottling.

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Old 03-12-2012, 03:26 PM   #6
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Thanks all. Some things now clearer (and some now more confused).

Based on the above it looks like:

1) Transfering to secondary isn't necessary but I shouldn't leave dry hops in for more than 7-10 days? From memory (I'll check tonight) the recipe says transfer to secondary after 7 days, add dry hops and leave for 4 weeks so more confused now. I'm tempted not to tranfer (or transfer 50% and see if it makes a difference). I'm not sure what to do about dry hopping timing now though.

2) I have a hydrometer (first use was this weekend). It was more a question of what "nearly done" means with regard to fermentation. From my understanding, fermentation is done when SG is constant for a few days. If I wait until SG is steady (I guess what foltster suggests) then fermentauion will be "done" not "nearly done". Then again, maybe there is a typo in the recipe. Thoughts from those in the know?

3) the bag is the wide(ish) mess "string" bag. I guess the easiest option would be to not use the bag and put a bit of muslin over the racking cane at bottling time.

4) I think I'll lean towards the no bag option

5) I assumed it would need to be sanatised but I hadn't thought about using boiling water for it (didn't want to make up a large batch of sanitisation mix). I guess if I decide to go with the bag (or make one out of some muslin my wife has in the kitchen supplies), I can sanatise it (and a small steel washer) by boiling in a pan for a few minutes.

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Old 03-12-2012, 03:46 PM   #7
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I wouldn't dry hop for 4 weeks. You'd def be looking at grassy or vegetal off flavors. 7-10 days is the safe norm. You should have a stable FG 2 days apart & settling clear to dry hop. The hop oils coat the settling yeast & sink to the bottom. I use hop sacks when dry hopping,as I like to keep things cleaner. No grainy bits get sucked into the bottling bucket that way.
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Old 03-12-2012, 04:11 PM   #8
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3) the bag is the wide(ish) mess "string" bag. I guess the easiest option would be to not use the bag and put a bit of muslin over the racking cane at bottling time.
You may not even need the muslin on the cane. I've only finished one batch, but I dry hopped with loose pellets and had no issues with sediment from them. I don't recall how long I hopped, it was probably 10-14 days, but by the end almost all the hops had settled out. It just added a bit to the trub that I ditched when I went to the bottling bucket.

(By all means use the muslin if you like, I'm just trying to work on keeping things simple and sticking to the truly beneficial equipment / practices.)
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Old 03-12-2012, 04:37 PM   #9
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The dissolved grainy bits won't get through the muslin hop sack in any appreciable amounts. They tend to stick together in a pasty ball inside the sack.
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Old 03-12-2012, 04:51 PM   #10
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I've just dry hoped with cascade pellets for 6 days in the primary. I could see some hop "slush" out of the bag (I put a glass marble in it, but it still was close to surface). I just cold crushed it and got a small greenish layer of hops and residual yeast on the top of the white cake. Beer looks clear.

With cold crushing initial CO2 and what temps to use in calculating priming sugar is unclear for me, I used fermenting temps, assuming no extra CO2 was produced during the cold crushing process. Hope my logic is OK. Research if you go this way.

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