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Can dry hopping contaminate a batch?

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AnonyBrew

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After reading about dry hopping I understand many people just throw hops in the secondary for a week or two.

I also read that beer should not be exposed to anything that has not been sanitized.

Perhaps a dumb question, but won't the addition of hops expose the beer to an unsanitized element?
 

McKBrew

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I don't think anyone has ever had an issue relate to dry-hopping. By the time the beer goes to secondary, the alcohol content of it protects it from just about everything.
 

bikegeek

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I've wondered about this too. Especially with me planning to plant some hops this spring. I guess others' success doing it is a good sign, but I still worry about introducing a wild yeast.
 

Jaeger48

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I've only dry-hopped one batch and after reading the forum I just tossed the pellets straight into the secondary and didn't have any problem with infection.
 

ShortSnoutBrewing

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You will have no issues. As stated, when you're putting in to secondary the alcohol produced in primary will kill any nasties.
 

kenb

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Should have no problems. I never have had any issues dry-hopping. Just remember to wash your hands before handling the hops!
 

ArcaneXor

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Soperbrew said:
Ok, another dumb follow up question:

Why does the secondary require an airlock?
Dust, mold and oxidized beer don't taste good.
 

justin8425

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Soperbrew said:
Ok, another dumb follow up question:

Why does the secondary require an airlock?
That's a valid question. By all rights, fermentation should be complete while in the primary or else you would have not racked to secondary, right? I know I use one because off gassing can still occur in the secondary, especially if you have to move it. The agitation will sometimes stir up dissolved or trapped CO2 from the bottom.
Hope that helps. No such thing as a dumb question, just dumb answers...:mug:
 

rocketman768

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Kilted Brewer said:
You will have no issues. As stated, when you're putting in to secondary the alcohol produced in primary will kill any nasties.
Wrong. Some of the bacteria that cause beer spoilage are highly tolerant to ethanol, especially at the low levels present in beer...I.e. the genus of Lactobacillus bacteria present in your mouth and on your hands and in yogurts and things (and even in styles of beer).

http://www.springerlink.com/content/j2u26x532w1511q7/

You have to be careful with the beer at ANY point until it is sealed up in bottles.
 

Beerthoven

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Kilted Brewer said:
You will have no issues. As stated, when you're putting in to secondary the alcohol produced in primary will kill any nasties.
Wrong. Acetobacter consumes alcohol and produces acetic acid. Its the low PH level of the beer that is protective, not the alcohol.
 

ShortSnoutBrewing

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woh, jump all over a guy why don't ya. This is what I was taught/told...so that's what I went with. I've done several batches dry hopped and never had a concern nor a problem.

Sorry to be passing bad info, I'll go back to my hole now.
 

Beerthoven

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Kilted Brewer said:
woh, jump all over a guy why don't ya. This is what I was taught/told...so that's what I went with. I've done several batches dry hopped and never had a concern nor a problem.

Sorry to be passing bad info, I'll go back to my hole now.
Sorry, not jumping on ya! I think it is true that the alcohol will kill some bacteria, but not the ones that normally ruin our batches, like Lacto and Aceto.

And I agree with you that there is little risk in dry hopping. I do it often.

Its all good!

:mug:
 

ShortSnoutBrewing

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Trust me my friend...It is all good. I just had a chuckle when there were two posts in a row saying basically the same thing...

Plus, I'm one that is big on cleaning, sanitizing, etc but I don't let it control my brewing. If dry hopping was so evil to the beer no one would do it. Like we all say RDWHAHB.

:mug:
 

rocketman768

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Kilted Brewer said:
woh, jump all over a guy why don't ya. This is what I was taught/told...so that's what I went with. I've done several batches dry hopped and never had a concern nor a problem.

Sorry to be passing bad info, I'll go back to my hole now.

Yeah, sorry to sound condescending; didn't mean to. It's just that it's not true :)

As for why you need an airlock on the secondary, you will still get a little fermentation carry-over from the primary as well as some CO2 escaping from solution. The airlock lets the excess escape and build a CO2 layer on top of your beer to keep it from oxidizing. Also, fluctuations in temperature will cause the pressure inside the carboy to change. If you just had a stopper on top and the temperature went up, the pressure of the gas inside the carboy might pop the stopper off and expose your beer to mold and bacteria.

To sum up, airlocks are meant to solve the problem of things getting into the beer whether it is fermenting or not.
 

kenb

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Bottom line is wash your hands and practice good santitation while dry-hopping, and you will have about a 99% or better success rate..ie no nasties...
 

HP_Lovecraft

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When I dry-hop, I soak hops in some vokda for about 30 minutes, then dump everything right in.

I started doing that AFTER I started reading this forum. A few members have said they blamed a few ruined batches on dry-hopping.

It is one of those debated issues. But I figure, I have the vodka laying around to use in the airlock. Seems like a harmless way to sanitize the hops "just in case".

nick
 
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AnonyBrew

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Now we're getting somewhere. My original post asks that if sanitation is soooooo necessary then how come nobody worries about putting something that has not been sanitized (meaning the hops) into their beer?

Could I go into my backyard, pick a leaf off a tree or a flower from the garden and put it in my secondary without worrying about contamination? I don't see much of a difference between that & dry hopping.
 

debaniel

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Soperbrew said:
Could I go into my backyard, pick a leaf off a tree or a flower from the garden and put it in my secondary without worrying about contamination? I don't see much of a difference between that & dry hopping.
I could be wrong here, but I believe hops have anti-bacterial properties.

That's how the IPA was born - load it up with hops to preserve the beer on it's long voyage from England to India.
 

kenb

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Soperbrew said:
Now we're getting somewhere. My original post asks that if sanitation is soooooo necessary then how come nobody worries about putting something that has not been sanitized (meaning the hops) into their beer?

Could I go into my backyard, pick a leaf off a tree or a flower from the garden and put it in my secondary without worrying about contamination? I don't see much of a difference between that & dry hopping.
The leaves in your backyard are different than hops though. Hops are simply not conducive the bacteria, so the risk is minimal. Like i said, there is more of a chance that you would infect the beer from LOTS of bacteria on your hands when handling the hops while dry-hopping, or sneezing/coughing into your carboy when dry-hopping, than anything in the hops themselves.
And aside from that, trust the experience of people who have dry-hopped dozens/hundreds/thousands of times with little/no issues at all.
 

Crazytwoknobs

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Soperbrew said:
Could I go into my backyard, pick a leaf off a tree or a flower from the garden and put it in my secondary without worrying about contamination? I don't see much of a difference between that & dry hopping.
I'll try that this summer. A 1gal batch. But what kind of leaf should I use? I have access to just about everything, there's an arboretum not too far away.... plus the conservatory in the city...
 
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AnonyBrew

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Ok, so now I understand that something in hops (oils or otherwise) kills bacteria. Is that right? Or is it that bacteria can't live on hops?
 

kenb

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Soperbrew said:
Ok, so now I understand that something in hops (oils or otherwise) kills bacteria. Is that right? Or is it that bacteria can't live on hops?
yes, here is an interesting tidbit i came across:

Chinese healers use hops to treat tuberculosis and as an
antibiotic. Test-tube studies show that the bitter acids
in hops inhibit certain bacteria and fungi including the
common bacteria Staphylococcis aureus (responsible for
staph infections) and Bacillus subtilis.....
 

ChrisKennedy

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I don't really buy this whole "hops are antibacterial and that is why it is safe to dry hop without worry of infections". Yes, hops have antibacterial properties when they are used in beer. But do the hops themselves, the actual cones surface, have antibacterial properties? So if wild yeast or lacto or pedio falls on a hop cone, it is automatically zapped by the hops magical antibacterial properties?


I am not asserting that dry hopping is a major sanitation risk, I am just questioning one of the more common reasons for this. It doesn't seem that logical to me.
 

kenb

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ChrisKennedy said:
I don't really buy this whole "hops are antibacterial and that is why it is safe to dry hop without worry of infections". Yes, hops have antibacterial properties when they are used in beer. But do the hops themselves, the actual cones surface, have antibacterial properties? So if wild yeast or lacto or pedio falls on a hop cone, it is automatically zapped by the hops magical antibacterial properties?


I am not asserting that dry hopping is a major sanitation risk, I am just questioning one of the more common reasons for this. It doesn't seem that logical to me.
Test-tube studies show that the bitter acids in hops inhibit certain bacteria and fungi....
 

ChrisKennedy

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I am not arguing that. I accept that, hence why I said "hops have antibacterial properties when they are used in beer."

What I am arguing is that it doesn't seem logical to me that these antibacterial properties would necessarily manifest themselves when the hops are not yet used in beer.
 

GIusedtoBe

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then you have to dry hop it. It's that simple. Wash you hands and your equipment and dump the suckers in. It will not infect your beer. Your PA will not be the same w/out dryhopping. Who cares about the chemistry lesson on whether or not hops are antibacterial. I've done it lots of times w/ pellets and whole hops w/ no prob. More than likely the people that have had batches go bad had it contaminated from some other source.

BTW For the guy that "sanitized" his hops in vodka, how did that turn out? I would think that it would drastically change the flavor to immerse them in vodka.

Regards,
Al
 

Jared311

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Even though hops act as a natural preservative, I wouldn't brush off this idea so lightly. Always take proper sanitizing procedures when coming in contact with your beer at any point in the process. There should be enough alcohol content to fend off any contamination, but why even risk it? Still sanitize the secondary, racking cane, airlock, and the muslin bag used for dry hopping.
 

kenb

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ChrisKennedy said:
I am not arguing that. I accept that, hence why I said "hops have antibacterial properties when they are used in beer."

What I am arguing is that it doesn't seem logical to me that these antibacterial properties would necessarily manifest themselves when the hops are not yet used in beer.
According to test tube studies they do whether in beer or not. The beer does not make them anti-bacterial. They are because of their own properties, not the beer's properties. In any case, wash your hands, don't sneeze or cough in your wort when dry-hopping, don't leave the airlock off and dryhop in the same place as where you crush your grains (grains harbor mold that is easily airborne), sanitize your hop-bag if you use one (i don't use one) re-sanitize your airlock before recapping your carboy, and you will be fine.
 
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Hops can have some bacteria on them, but the hop resin coating the hop buds are anti-bacterial and the likelihood of contaminating the beer is extremely low. It is not just the antibacterial properties of the hops them selves, it is that the PH of the resin is to high for bacteria to survive.

Whole hops that have not been stored well, can develop a mold on them but I don't believe that particular mold can survive in beer.

In fact, beer molds live in the surface and really don't effect the flavor of the beer beneath the mold layer (at least the ones I've heard of).
 
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