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Old 03-23-2009, 12:47 AM   #1
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Default Good/bad idea? Bottling half then dry hopping half of the primary.

I'm currently fermenting my second beer - Black Rock Whispering Wheat with Munton's Wheat Spray Malt.

It's in the primary now and I think the OG is near the right level to bottle (will check with the hydrometer before bottling, of course).

Rather than bottle the full amount, I was thinking to bottle half and then add some dry hops to the remaining half in the primary (I don't have a secondary), and then bottle the rest a week or two later. I basically want to experiment to find out what difference dry hopping makes to the taste of the beer.

Is there any significant disadvantage to this? Ie, taking half from the primary and then dry hopping the rest in the primary. Or is the difference likely to be negligible and so not worthwhile?

Finally, I'm looking for a fruity taste. Any dry hops that you would recommend for this, and what quantity? They need to be v.common varieties (Cascade, Saaz, etc) for me to be able to get them in Japan.

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Old 03-23-2009, 01:35 AM   #2
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If it were me I would get a smaller carboy, fill the carboy and dry hop, and bottle the rest. I'd be afraid of oxidation in the primary after having it open to bottle.

That reason aside, maybe someone else can tell you about dry hopping in the primary. I've never done it, only because I've been told not to -- I'm not saying it can't be done with good results.

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Old 03-23-2009, 01:45 AM   #3
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I honestly don't know...but as long as you recognize you're experimenting and could end up with half of a batch going bad I don't see why not. Just make sure you compensate the amount of hops you're using with the amount of beer you're dry hopping.

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Old 03-23-2009, 01:54 AM   #4
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You won't have any problems racking half off then dropping some hops in, you'll have enough CO2 in there from fermentation to protect your beer.

On a second subject from your post.
Wheat beers aren't typically dryhopped and the fruityness comes from the yeast strain. But an Experiment is always fun and you may start the next big trend! Give her a shot, homebrewing is great because you have the options to try everything you can think of.

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Old 03-23-2009, 01:58 AM   #5
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The amount of time it takes you to bottle half a batch, add in hops, then reseal isn't going to be enough to oxidize your beer. I understand that HotbreakHotel and PatMac have this fear, because oxidized beer seriously tastes like crap. That being said, I still don't think a few minutes of bottling is going to do any real damage. Be gentle, don't shake everything up, and the CO2 released from agitating your beer will keep everything safe.

As for which type of hops to use, that's totally up to you. I'm told cascade might add a bit of grapefruit flavor.

Another easy way to experiment with different hop varieties would be to buy a few small amounts of different types of hops and add in a hop pellet to a commercial beer without much hop presence. Since you live in Japan, Kirin Green Label instantly comes to mind as a good blank slate you can try out different hops with.

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Old 03-23-2009, 02:06 AM   #6
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I'd look at it this way. If the worst case happens, and you do get oxidation or contract an infection, you lose half a batch. And you get to learn what it looks/tastes like when that happens.

In the long run, since you seem to like experimenting, you should get a secondary fermentation vessel. One of the main reasons for using a secondary fermenter is to add things like hops, fruit, or flavorings to the beer post-primary fermentation.

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Old 03-23-2009, 02:10 AM   #7
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I'd look at it this way. If the worst case happens, and you do get oxidation or contract an infection, you lose half a batch. And you get to learn what it looks/tastes like when that happens.

In the long run, since you seem to like experimenting, you should get a secondary fermentation vessel. One of the main reasons for using a secondary fermenter is to add things like hops, fruit, or flavorings to the beer post-primary fermentation.
He is 100% correct here. Worst case scenario, you learn something. Best case scenario, you learn something.

Just to clarify though, the risk of oxidation or infection assuming you are careful and use at least a reasonable amount of care in your sanitation are very low. Granted, they are still >0. Ultimately it's up to you what you do, but I say go for it, and take good notes!

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Old 03-23-2009, 02:20 AM   #8
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If you are going to experiment in the primary, be careful not to disturb the bed of CO2 that is currently resting on top of your beer. If you're super concerned about oxidation, you can use a can of inert gas, commonly called "Wine Preserver" to re-create your bed of CO2, but to be honest I wouldn't worry about it that much.

I don't know what is available in Japan, but you're going to get a ton of citrus aromas and flavor out of the American "C" hops - Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, Columbus. Amarillo is highly citrusy, imparting a big grapefruit aroma and flavor.

Other (non-citrus) fruit flavors will largely come from esters and will be dependent on your yeast strain, not hops.

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Old 03-23-2009, 02:42 AM   #9
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Thanks to you all for the feedback.

My thoughts on oxidation was this. I'm filling the bottles using a tap attached to the primary, so essentially the level is just moving down - there shouldn't be oxegen mixed with the remaining beer.

However it does mean that there will be a 12L gap between the beer and the lid, when I reseal the bucket. I know How To Brew recommends that when you move to a secondary, you should minimise that gap. I'm hoping that CO2 from the beer will start to displace that.

I think I'm going to do this. I am keen to experiment to get a better understanding of how different flavours are created - and though there's risk, I'll at least have half a batch of good beer, and at the minimum, I'll learn that I can't do this in the future! If it does work though, it'll increase the range of tastes that I can make without increasing the number of full cycles.

A secondary is high on my list of priorities (and possibly a second primary also). I'll need a secondary for Beer three which will be a Kriek; I plan to mix fruit in the secondary.

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