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Old 06-10-2008, 06:30 PM   #11
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Jan 2007
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I always FWH my bittering hops.

FYI - on First Wort Hopping

Posted to Homebrew Digest #1989, 3/20/96,
by Dave Draper

Dear Friends, with the recent interest in First Wort Hopping, I thought I would provide this summary of the article in Brauwelt that was mentioned in George Fix's original post. To answer a recent question regarding the wording in Jim DiPalma's posts: First Wort Hopping refers to adding the hops to the kettle as the wort is sparged into it--the hops sit there soaking in the runnings for the entire time the runnings are collected. They continue to sit in the wort as the boil is commenced.
This summary is just from my reading of the article (The rediscovery of first wort hopping, by Freis, Nuremberg, and Mitter, Brauwelt IV:308, 1995; copy supplied to me by Andy Walsh) and is not meant to be comprehensive; but I hope that is useful to some of us. Any errors in understanding the content of the article are mine. I am sure we will all have lots to talk about on this subject; I'm only trying to provide what the original article had to say (in Readers Digest form). I'll do it in sorta outline form.

1. Introductory material. First wort hopping (FWH) was used extensively at the start of the century but mainly in order to enhance bitterness rather than aroma. It was recognized that the higher pH of the *wort* (as opposed to later in the boil) had a positive effect on utilization, combatting the effects of losses from coagulation on break material. The higher pH of the first runnings enhances isomerization of alpha acids. Other attempts were made to actually hop the mash (!!); other early efforts involved running the sparged wort through a hop filter--a "hop front" instead of a hop back, I guess...DeClerk steeped the hops in 50C water before adding to the wort (to remove "unpleasant" stuff); a later worker used 70C water. Both reported enhanced aroma qualities.

2. The experiments. Two different breweries produced the test brews that make up the subject of this article, Pils types. The two breweries make a slightly different version of Pils. At each brewery, the FWH beer was brewed with a reference beer alongside. The FWH and Reference beers at each brewery were done under controlled conditions, identical ingredients, pitching rates, etc., and differed only in the way they were hopped. In both test breweries, hops were dumped into the boiler once its bottom was covered with wort; no stirring--they just sat there while wort was sparged on top of them. Brew A (total hopping: 13.0 g alpha acid per hectolitre of cast wort) was first-hopped with 34% of the total amount added--Tettnang and Saaz that were typically used in aroma additions at the end of the boil under normal conditions. Brew B (total hopping: 12.2 g alpha acid per hl wort) used only Tettnang, but 52% of the total hop amount was used as First Wort Hops. No aroma hopping was done in either brew.

3. Tasting panel results: the FWH beers were overwhelmingly preferred over the reference beers in triangular taste tests (i.e., each taster was given three beers, two of either the reference beer or the FWH beer, and one of the other, and had to correctly identify which two were alike before their preference results were incorporated in the database). 11 of 12 tasters of each beer preferred the FWH beer. The main reasons given for the preference: "a fine, unobtrusive hop aroma; a more harmonic beer; a more uniform bitterness."

4. Analytical results--bitterness: The FWH beers had more IBUs than did the reference beers. Brew A: Ref beer was 37.9 IBU, FWH beer was 39.6 IBU. Brew B: Ref beer was 27.2 IBU, FWH beer was 32.8 IBU. This should come as no surprise, since more hops were in the kettle for the boil in the FWH beers than in the Reference beers. Prior to fermentation, the worts from both breweries showed the following features: the FWH wort had substantially more isomerized alpha acids, but less non-isomerized alphas. This was particularly true of Brew B, which had a higher proportion of first-wort hops. Nevertheless, the bitterness of the FWH beers was described as more pleasing than the (slightly weaker) bitterness of the reference beers.

5. Analytical results--aroma: For the aroma compounds, very distinct differences were measured (gas chromatography) in both the identities and concentrations of the various aromatic compounds between the FWH beers and the reference beers. Because the precise nature of the effects of aromatic compounds on beer flavor are very complicated, it cannot be said with certainty just why the various measurements resulted in the overwhelming tasting preference, but clearly something is going on here. Even though the reference beers had higher *absolute amounts* of most of the aroma compounds, again the FWH beers got higher ratings for overall pleasure.

6. Final comments: each brewery needs to experiment with its own setup for determining what sort of first-wort hopping is best for it. But the alpha-acid quantity should *not* be reduced, even if one gets more bitterness than one would get in the usual way. The tasting panel results seem to indicate that the bitterness in the FWH beers was fine, and mild--i.e. there is little harshness that can appear in a highly bittered beer. If the hops are reduced to compensate for the extra IBUs one gets from the first-wort hops, then the whole benefit of doing it might be lost. The recommendation is to use at least 30% of the total hops as first- wort hops--basically, this means adding the aroma hops as first-wort hops rather than late kettle additions (at least for my setup, and I suspect for many others' too).

That's my quick 'n' dirty summary. I found the article quite readable, aside from the parts where the technical info is too far afield for me to make much sense of it (e.g. the gas chromatography results). Hopefully this will give a baseline that interested readers can refer to for what will undoubtedly be a fairly extensive discussion of this topic.

One quick comment: Bob McCowan mentioned, quite correctly, that the above commentary applies to infused beers--in decocted beers, comparatively little break is formed in early part of the boil, so one needs to consider this. If I read the Brauwelt article properly, infusion beers were the only ones being discussed.

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Old 06-10-2008, 09:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by blacklab View Post
I always FWH. You can also mash hop. IMHO, it provides a much smoother bittering effect.

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Old 06-10-2008, 10:28 PM   #13
Import Sales Rep/Beverage Consultant
Dec 2007
Chicago, Illinois
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i do partial mash sometimes, i guess i should have said before, during, or after mashing...

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Old 06-10-2008, 10:43 PM   #14
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Jul 2007
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Originally Posted by Evan! View Post
I'm wondering why, if what niquejim says is true, ProMash automatically DROPS your IBU's by a few points if you go from, say, 60 mins to FW. What's up wit dat?

By what I understand IBU's are up, but percieved bitterness is down due to the fact that it is smoother. If that makes any sense

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Old 06-10-2008, 11:18 PM   #15
Nov 2007
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I don't understand why ProMash drops the IBUs either, but I read that it's approximately a 10% increase in IBU's compared to the 60 minute addition.

I can wrap my head around the smoother bitterness aspect and the better hop utilization based on the pH/SG/temperature, but the aroma portion is still throwing me for a loop. I've read that writeup before Biermuncher and I guess the answer to my question is that it is really friggin' complicated and to just be happy that it works so well.

niquejim, it's funny that you mention Denny Conn because it's actually his recipe that I was doing. I had never done his Rye IPA before and I have a bunch of jars of washed "Denny's Fav 50" yeast that I figured it was about time to try his much lauded recipe. Of course I nonchalantly toss in the hops, look at the bag, and realize before the pellets even start disintigrating that I made a boo-boo. I personally think that the additional bitterness and aroma given by the amarillo will work great with the recipe.

Like I said, this is only my second time FWHing. The first I just moved my bittering addition in my IPA to FWH, but have yet to taste the results. Next time I do my IPA I'm thinking maybe 75% of the bittering additon as FWH and 25% at 60, just to try blending the different bitterness feels.

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Old 06-11-2008, 01:00 AM   #16

Originally Posted by BierMuncher View Post
The recommendation is to use at least 30% of the total hops as first- wort hops--basically, this means adding the aroma hops as first-wort hops rather than late kettle additions (at least for my setup, and I suspect for many others' too).
Does this mean 30% by weight or IBU?
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:22 PM   #17
Jan 2007
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BYO has a Hobgoblin recipe that utilizes FWH for extract w/grains. I will be giving a partial mash version of this recipe a try with a FWH addition this weekend.

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Old 07-16-2009, 12:45 PM   #18
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This is an older thread but I am still confused. For instance, If I was going to have 1oz amarillo as a 60 minute boil, but I am doing a 90 minute boil, and I change the amarillo to FWH, the software makes my 1oz an equivalent of a 20 minute addition?
If there is a more recent reference, please post a link.

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Old 07-16-2009, 03:07 PM   #19
Aubie Stout
Jan 2008
Birmingham, Al
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When I FWH in Beersmith, I set the hop addition to FWH and set the time to 20mins regardless of the length of the boil.
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:30 PM   #20
Apr 2008
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Originally Posted by bdavanza View Post
This is an older thread but I am still confused. For instance, If I was going to have 1oz amarillo as a 60 minute boil, but I am doing a 90 minute boil, and I change the amarillo to FWH, the software makes my 1oz an equivalent of a 20 minute addition?
If there is a more recent reference, please post a link.
Analytically it's the equivalent (if not more) of a full boil IBU addition. The flavor perception is the equivalent of a 20min addition.
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