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Can't get real hop flavor

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McKnuckle

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I agree about oxidation being a major factor. That, and likely some rough treatment of finishing hops without adequate flavor hop additions to add depth to the overall profile. Hence the multiple angles being explored here.
 

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Your local HBS should sell the nylon mesh bags (tight weave) that will contain the hop particles easily. I've used them in the past for both the boil and in keg. Never had an issue with the hop matter leaking out. If you're using muslin bags, those are NOT made to contain hop matter.

For the tea item, make sure that everything is stainless steel. Especially the chain and such. There are a lot of them that the chain is NOT stainless (chrome plated maybe). Which will at least discolor.

I still think you should just get the 300 (or 400) mesh stainless strainer that sits in your boil kettle/pot and be done with it. There are plenty of them even on Amazon for not a lot of money. Get one larger and when you step up your batch size, you'll be able to keep using it.
 

eric19312

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3.) I bottle condition (I don't have kegging equipment and don't want to get it) so the beer is exposed to a lot of air in the bottling bucket and the empty bottles. Could the hop flavor be getting lost that way? I know that happens with the super hoppy New England IPAs but people have been bottle conditioning regular IPAs for decades, yes?
If it wasn't covered in one of their existing eposides, it might be interesting to email the guys over at Basic Brewing to find out how they bottle their "Hop Sampler" batches.
I think @BrewnWKopperKat was onto something. I think James is bottling with Cooper's Carbonation Drops. This eliminates the bottling bucket...just fill the bottles direct from your fermentor and I would think this would substantially reduce oxygen pickup during bottling. The drops will also assure you are getting enough carbonation to push some hop aroma into your face when you taste the beer.
 

ashopis

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And #1 and #2, oxygen is not that aggressive in non bio transformed beers, as there are less bindings going on, it definitely affects but I've had commercial bottle condiotions dry hopped saisons, some 3 years old and there was still hop freshness, due to that lack of binding components going on. He's reducing hop extraction at whirpool by removing them earlier and he's doing the same thing with the use of bags at dry hop, I don't do Hazy IPAs but I do dry hop other beers and I had a massive change in my beers when I moved from musslim bags to a hop tube in dry hop.

So I would leave the hops until the end of the cooling, a strainer is pretty easy to sanitize so you can use it at cool temps, and move to a hop tube, it will improve a lot the hop extraction. Oxygen shouldn't be a major issue when it comes to not biotransformed beers, obviously don't leave them there to sit for months, specially out of the fridge, but they should be good during a couple months so you should be able to drink through those batches while still tasty
What is a “hop tube?
 
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Nick Z

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Out of curiosity, why are you so worried about hops in your fermenter? You are removing the very thing you want more of.
I think I had read somewhere that you must get all of the hop sediment out of the wort before fermentation. I believe the idea was that hops in the wort result in off flavors, excessive bitterness, etc.

On the dry hopping side the reason I want to contain the hops is that I started with just tossing in the hops loose (in secondary). It was a nightmare bottling. No matter how carefully I racked tons of hops clogged up the bottling bucket and the bottling wand and the siphon.

If letting them loose is what's needed then I'll do it.

These are the hop steeping bags I used:


I used them because, well, they were called hop steeping bags. But the hops escaped last time I used them. I checked the bag afterwards and I didn't see any holes in it nor did my knot come loose. I assume the hops just migrated out.

I wanted to extend a note of thanks again. I acknowledge I must seem dense. I think I just got into the habit of making do with what was on hand.

The replies are appreciated.
 
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McKnuckle

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You do not have to get all the hops out of the wort before fermenting, but it's better if you do. This is the trouble with having the homebrew Wild West on HBT answer your post. You'll get the whole gamut of personalities and degrees of refinement among brewers and you have to sort through them.

But yes, while some people will say "I just throw everything in; it all settles out, I get good beer" - and they probably do - kettle hops in the fermenter is not a best practice in brewing. But they are so easy to remove... it's been explained in this thread several times already.

I agree about dry hops. I always contain them. One clogged poppet on an otherwise perfectly carbonated and sealed keg is enough to force that practice. Get these for your dry hops.
 

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@Nick Z IME, teh muslin bags do NOT have a tight enough weave to contain pellet hops. They could work for leaf hops.

Get these: Straining Bag - Fine Mesh Hops 8

Or one of these: stainless hop filter
Or one like it sized for your boil vessel. I picked up the 6x14 model and modified it for use in my keggle. You should be able to find one that works well with your boil vessel, if you're doing a full boil at least (for your tiny 1 gallon batches ;)).
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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The drops will also assure you are getting enough carbonation to push some hop aroma into your face when you taste the beer.
And if carbonation drop / tabs don't work, there are a number of additional ideas for dosing individual bottles over in "one gallon brewers unite".
 
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Nick Z

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I was under the impression that you had to get every single particle of hop matter you could out of the wort before it goes into the fermenter. Just like you have to get every single particle of grain you can out before the boil.

I could have sworn Papazian mentioned sparging the hops. Where he strains out the hops then pours the wort back over them.

It occurs to me I get more hop flavor out of the Centennial Blonde Ale than I do the IPA recipes. It may be because I use whole leaf hops in that recipe (I just happened to have some whole leaf Centennial and Cascade on hand when I first made it and just kept doing it). Getting that small amount of whole hops out only took one or two runs through the strainer. As opposed to the dozen or so it takes with pellet hops. That might have lessened the damage I was doing to those brews.
 

jddevinn

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oxygen is not that aggressive in non bio transformed beers, as there are less bindings going on, it definitely affects but I've had commercial bottle condiotions dry hopped saisons, some 3 years old and there was still hop freshness,
Those commercial bottles likely were bottle to the industrial standard of having a low ppb range of dissolved oxygen. Post fermentation oxygen is definitely detrimental to all beers. A home brewer bottling from a bucket is going to have a hard time getting into the ppm range.
 

jddevinn

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And yet many of us make beer that we (and our friends) enjoy.

:mug:
And I'm sure that you aren't splashing all over the place while bottling and that you aren't keeping "3 years of hop freshness". If you oxidize fermented beer it will, among other things, greatly reduce the hop flavor very quickly. With the answers on process from the OP oxidation seems to be the most likely culprit.

I'm not saying that you cannot bottle good beer at home. However, post fermentation oxidation is a very quick process with a low threshold. Everyone should be doing the most they can to limit oxygen exposure post fermentation. "Oxygen is not that aggressive in non bio transformed beers" is incorrect.
 
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Nick Z

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What about dry hopping? My typical method is to stick the hops in the muslin bag and throw it into the bucket. Usually after fermentation is complete. Sometimes in the middle of it. I read about throwing in a little sugar to restart fermentation to scrub the oyxgen out of the headspace.

But considering that my dry hopping doesn't appear to be working I'd say I am doing something wrong.
 

jddevinn

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Dry hopping can add some taste but does not add bitterness, it is primarily for aroma.

If I was you I would brew a batch or two without dry hopping while trying to isolate the flavor issue, then work on the dry hop procedure.
 

McKnuckle

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"Throw [hops] in the bucket..."

It seems that you don't fear oxygen nearly enough. Here's how I dry hopped my last pale ale, just for comparison, to give you an idea of how home brewers can keep oxygen away from beer on the cold side:

At the beginning of fermentation, I placed my dry hops in a stainless canister, and put the canister into the keg from which the beer would ultimately be served, which I sealed up.

I then fermented the beer in another sealed keg, venting the fermentation CO2 into the serving keg via a jumper hose. I attached a blow-off from the serving keg into a jar of StarSan. This effectively purged the serving keg of oxygen and replaced it with CO2 during the ~7 days of fermentation.

At the end of fermentation, I transferred the beer from the fermenter keg to the serving keg on top of the dry hops. This was done without opening either keg, using gravity and a bit of bottled CO2 to push it. The serving keg was placed in my keezer and force carbonated over a couple of weeks. The hops were left in there for the duration.

Hop flavor and aroma were still fresh at 49 days when the keg gave up its last pint. The beer was not exposed to atmospheric O2, not even once, after the yeast was pitched. That's the kind of thing you need to work towards when it comes to O2 avoidance.
 
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Nick Z

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I just put together an experimental recipe. This uses whole leaf hops, which are easier for me to get out with my current equipment. Plus I happen to have some on hand. It should create 1.25 gallons of wort.

The malt bill is from the American Pale Ale recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I fiddled around with the hops a bit.

The hop schedule is as follows:

1 gram of Centennial at 30 minutes.
7 grams Centennial at 10 minutes.
7 grams Cascade at 10 minutes.
10 grams of Centennial at 5 minutes.
10 grams of Centennial at 5 minutes.
10 grams of Centennial at flameout
10 grams of Cascade at flameout.

I figure I will immediately move the kettle to the ice water bath. Once the temperature drops to around 120 or so I will take it out of the bath and let it sit for 30 minutes. After that I will return it to ice water to chill down to pitching temp. Then strain the hops out, not freaking out if they don't strain perfectly. Then pitch the yeast and pray.

Thoughts? I'm going to get either some tea infusers, that bucket screen and some mesh bags. But that will take a while and I am eager to see if I can stop screwing up. I actually have a fairly large stainless steel strainer I could use. Not super fine mesh but I think it will catch most whole leaf hops.
 

AMessenger

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I would add some dry hops to that. Here a very interesting Brulosophy experiment with some surprising results:

 

Harleybrew32

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another question when you put the hops in your bag, do you leave room for them to expand?
in other words don't tie the bag tight to the hops leave some room.
 

McKnuckle

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@Nick Z , the real challenge begins once you pitch the yeast. :)

Your recipe and pre-pitch technique sounds fine, but how are you treating fermentation and packaging? That's really the most important part of the process to preserve all flavors and aromas in beer, malt and hops alike.

The Centennial and Cascade hop schedule sounds great to get those flavors into the wort. But you need to keep them around once it turns into beer. Talk less about your hop additions and more about your cold side process.
 

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My last couple APA’s and IPA’s were lacking in hop flavor and I have it down to 2 things.

1) I picked up a hop spider - a little basket made of a tight wire mesh that hangs inside the kettle - and I have found that all the beers I’ve done using it lack bitterness and flavor. I thought of increasing all my hop additions to make up for that, but I decided to just stop using it instead.

2) My water chemistry. I moved last year and have only done a few hoppy beers since. I got a water test from Ward Labs at the new house. It says Chloride is 81 and Sulfate is only 5. Reading Palmer and others, they say you want sulfate/chloride 2:1 or higher - mine in much off the other way. 16:1 Chloride/Sulfate. I think need to adjust this ratio.

I’m not a water chemistry expert and I’m aware there is much debate around Palmer’s calculations not being a cure-all. But I think I have to add Gypsum since I have practically no sulfate. Burton On Trent is high in Gypsum, thats why they’ve brewed good IPA there forever.
 
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McKnuckle

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Anyway, info I can see in this thread about fermentation is that primary takes place in a 2 gallon plastic bucket. Nothing is stated about sealing or opening for samples. Clear beer is racked to a secondary vessel, racking technique and vessel not specified, nor is time in secondary specified. Beer is bottled from secondary vessel, no info about how (spigot, siphon, bottling wand, purging, etc.).

So I think there's plenty of oxidation risk with this. Sounding like a broken record now so I'll bow out and watch for a while. :)
 

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"Asking for a friend": could those of you who have good cold side processes talk about your process?
If you're talking post chill and once in fermenter, here's what I do...
Move to fermenting location (temperature stable room or chamber).
Infuse wort with pure O2.
Pitch yeast (typically from a starter process).
Seal fermenter (I use converted/adapted commercial kegs).
Either fit with airlock/blow-off hose or spunding valve (fermenting under pressure for the past couple of batches, liking it).
Leave it the F alone for 2-4 weeks, or until it's finished and enough time has one past for the yeast to flocculate out of suspension.
Transfer to serving/carbonating keg with CO2 push.
Move to keezer for chill and carbonate (~2 weeks at serving pressure/temperature).
Enjoy.

I've been using CO2 pushes to move my finished beer for a long time. I have TC caps made that fit directly onto the keg openings that allow me to do this easily. My 50L fermenter (or 13.3 gallon) was fitted with a 4" TC ferrule when I set it up. The matching cap has both gas and liquid fittings, plus a thermowell. I use a temperature sensor to tell me what's going on inside the beer.
Since I started using the spunding valve, I've not needed a blow-off hose at all. I set the valve to vent at about 14psi and just let it run. I have the outlet tube on the assemble going into a small (plastic) jar with Starsan solution in it so that I can see gas movement. Since my fermenters are 100% sealed (zero chance of leaks) this is a valid sign. I still give it time it needs to finish (I don't rush things). My fermentation chamber doesn't (yet) have a heat source, just cooling. I might add a heat element to it at some point, but I've not needed to yet. If nothing else, I'll just close it up and allow the fermenting beer to warm it.

Also, if I want more hop flavor/aroma in a batch, I add hops into the serving keg before it goes for chill/carbonate. I've left those in for a few months without issue. I do have the lids with the tab welded to them that will allow me to suspend stainless mesh hop infusion items for these recipes moving forward. No more rinsing/cleaning the nylon mesh bags for me. :)

I also chill my wort with a 12" long, 40 plate, plate chiller. One of the best things I did for the brewing process.

I ONLY move my beer to another vessel (that's not for serving/carbonating) IF I'm going to age it for XX weeks (or longer). No "secondary fermenter" used. When I do move it to an aging vessel, it's moved via CO2 push (bottom to bottom via dip tubes) and then the headspace is fully purged with CO2 (multiple times to ensure I remove as much O2 as is possible without going insane). Even with using CO2 pushes and such, I move my beer as little as possible.

Another benefit of my method is once the yeast is pitched, the fermenter isn't moved (at all) until I've transferred the finished beer out of it. No lifting it to syphon out the beer, for any reason. I also haven't used a syphon in ages (got rid of mine many years ago now). I use a simple keg to keg jumper (beer ball lock fittings and clear tubing) for the transfers (swivel nut fittings). Makes things much easier on me. especially when I need to move 9 gallons of beer out of the 50L fermenter alone.
 
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Nick Z

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@Nick Z , the real challenge begins once you pitch the yeast. :)

Your recipe and pre-pitch technique sounds fine, but how are you treating fermentation and packaging? That's really the most important part of the process to preserve all flavors and aromas in beer, malt and hops alike.

The Centennial and Cascade hop schedule sounds great to get those flavors into the wort. But you need to keep them around once it turns into beer. Talk less about your hop additions and more about your cold side process.
You're very correct. It would seem my hot and cold side processes both suck like an Electrolux.

I ferment in two gallon buckets. I typically use dry yeast. Sometimes liquid. I probably tend to over pitch. When dry hopping I put the hops in those little muslin baggies and toss them into the bucket. I try to allow as little air in as possible.

Here is an absurdly detailed version of how I deal with beer post fermentation:

Rack the beer to a one gallon jug out of the bucket. The logic behind this is that I end with less trub and crap in the final beer. It also allows me to visually see how much clean beer I have. I leave it in secondary for about a day for the yeast to settle. Then bottle the next day. There is very little head space in the gallon jug.

Then I rack the beer to my bottling bucket with the priming sugar, give it a gentle stir (the one time I didn't do this I didn't get even carbonation). The bottling bucket is a one gallon bucket with a spigot installed. Then attach the bottling wand and fill the bottles. Immediately cap them with O2 absorbing bottle caps. Then let them sit for about a month at room temperature.

It seems to take them about a month for full carbonation to occur and not taste "green." I usually carbonate lighter beers to three volumes and darker beers to two volumes.

Suggestions for improvement are very much welcomed. But I intend to continue bottling. Kegs, even small ones, just aren't practical at this juncture.

I assume my asinine methods are not just damaging hop flavor but other flavors as well? I seem able to make decent porters and stouts but that could simply be wishful thinking on my part.

I will note that I recently made the strawberry milkshake IPA out of Zymurgy. I could tell something went wrong because despite the enormous amount of Mosaic hops put in there the final product had virtually no hop flavor. In fact it had a sort of "rancid" taste at the end. I do not intend to make New England IPAs again.

The one time I made a hoppy beer that worked I recall racking the beer to a glass jug after fermentation and throwing the hops in loose for dry hopping. It was a horrible mess at bottling time. But the resulting beer was hoppy.

Again, my thanks to all of you for your help.
 

McKnuckle

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Thanks for the detail! I would say that in terms of classic homebrew techniques, your method is not unusual at all. But in light of contemporary discoveries and equipment/technique evolution in the homebrew community, you are transferring too frequently and probably making the beer vulnerable to O2. While your darker, malty beers don't seem to suffer, that's because hops are just more delicate. They are the first sensory component to go south.

Here's some discussion on what you might change:

Current:
Bucket --> Jug --> Bottling Bucket --> Bottles

Future:
Sealed fermenter --> Bottles

If your goal is to bottle 1 gallon of beer, here's what I would do to improve this. Pick up a primary fermenter with a spigot, large enough to contain the batch size, and stop using a secondary. You can get a Big Mouth Bubbler in a 5 gallon size. It's fine that it's much larger - the headspace will be filled with CO2. It's no issue.

I use a 1 gallon BMB, which is actually about 1.4 gallons. But the bigger ones allow one to be more careless about batch size.

Allow the beer to ferment in the primary without opening it from the start to the finish, not even once. Take samples from the spigot if you must, and use a refractometer (with correction for alcohol) to determine when FG is reached. The exact FG is less important than confirming stability. A hydrometer is great, but we have tiny volume here and can't waste it.

When it's time to bottle, put sugar in the bottles directly. You can do this either with Domino Dots sugar cubes, one per 12 oz. bottle, or with sugar measured on a gram scale. Then bottle as usual with your bottling wand. If you do this well, you'll get one bottle with a little trub. Big deal. Mark the bottle cap with an "X" and try it first.
 
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BrewnWKopperKat

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If your goal is to bottle 1 gallon of beer, here's what I would do to improve this. Pick up a primary fermenter with a spigot, large enough to contain the batch size, and stop using a secondary. You can get a Big Mouth Bubbler in a 5 gallon size. It's fine that it's much larger - the headspace will be filled with CO2. It's no issue.

I use a 1 gallon BMB, which is actually about 1.4 gallons. But the bigger ones allow one to be more careless about batch size.

Allow the beer to ferment in the primary without opening it from the start to the finish, not even once. Take samples from the spigot if you must, and use a refractometer (with correction for alcohol) to determine when FG is reached. The exact FG is less important than confirming stability. A hydrometer is great, but we have tiny volume here and can't waste it.

When it's time to bottle, put sugar in the bottles directly.

1-Gallon Brewers UNITE! (start skimming in 2018) has additional ideas on each step, including some additional ideas for dosing individual bottles.

What you wrote is roughly how I do it (and, as I've noted in the past, the beer comes out fine :)).
 

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I'll add another vote for bottling directly from the fermenter.

I've also been using 2 gallon HDPE buckets as fermenters for small batches. You can easily add a spigot to one of those yourself. These have been working good for me. I installed mine around 1.5 inches off the bottom so it's above the trub.

For priming I calculate the amount of dextrose needed, dissolve it in some boiling water, then use a syringe to prime each bottle before filling. This site explains how to do it pretty well and includes a spreadsheet that calculates the amount of solution for each bottle, depending on size.
 

eric19312

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"Throw [hops] in the bucket..."

It seems that you don't fear oxygen nearly enough. Here's how I dry hopped my last pale ale, just for comparison, to give you an idea of how home brewers can keep oxygen away from beer on the cold side:

At the beginning of fermentation, I placed my dry hops in a stainless canister, and put the canister into the keg from which the beer would ultimately be served, which I sealed up.

I then fermented the beer in another sealed keg, venting the fermentation CO2 into the serving keg via a jumper hose. I attached a blow-off from the serving keg into a jar of StarSan. This effectively purged the serving keg of oxygen and replaced it with CO2 during the ~7 days of fermentation.

At the end of fermentation, I transferred the beer from the fermenter keg to the serving keg on top of the dry hops. This was done without opening either keg, using gravity and a bit of bottled CO2 to push it. The serving keg was placed in my keezer and force carbonated over a couple of weeks. The hops were left in there for the duration.

Hop flavor and aroma were still fresh at 49 days when the keg gave up its last pint. The beer was not exposed to atmospheric O2, not even once, after the yeast was pitched. That's the kind of thing you need to work towards when it comes to O2 avoidance.
I was with you all the way up till your use of the word "need" in your very final sentence. What you are describing is probably best practice for oxygen free dry hopping at homebrew scale but far less extreme measures can still produce an enjoyable and hoppy beer. The OP is not kegging and indicated he is not interested in kegging at current time so this approach isn't going to apply.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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A hydrometer is great, but we have tiny volume here and can't waste it.
When brewing a 12-pack using a 2 gal pail as a fermenter (which is pretty close to what OP is trying to do), there is enough space in the fermenter to scale up the recipe about 8 oz to account for two hydrometer readings.
 
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Nick Z

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Thanks for the detail! I would say that in terms of classic homebrew techniques, your method is not unusual at all. But in light of contemporary discoveries and equipment/technique evolution in the homebrew community, you are transferring too frequently and probably making the beer vulnerable to O2. While your darker, malty beers don't seem to suffer, that's because hops are just more delicate. They are the first sensory component to go south.

Here's some discussion on what you might change:

Current:
Bucket --> Jug --> Bottling Bucket --> Bottles

Future:
Sealed fermenter --> Bottles

If your goal is to bottle 1 gallon of beer, here's what I would do to improve this. Pick up a primary fermenter with a spigot, large enough to contain the batch size, and stop using a secondary. You can get a Big Mouth Bubbler in a 5 gallon size. It's fine that it's much larger - the headspace will be filled with CO2. It's no issue.

I use a 1 gallon BMB, which is actually about 1.4 gallons. But the bigger ones allow one to be more careless about batch size.

Allow the beer to ferment in the primary without opening it from the start to the finish, not even once. Take samples from the spigot if you must, and use a refractometer (with correction for alcohol) to determine when FG is reached. The exact FG is less important than confirming stability. A hydrometer is great, but we have tiny volume here and can't waste it.

When it's time to bottle, put sugar in the bottles directly. You can do this either with Domino Dots sugar cubes, one per 12 oz. bottle, or with sugar measured on a gram scale. Then bottle as usual with your bottling wand. If you do this well, you'll get one bottle with a little trub. Big deal. Mark the bottle cap with an "X" and try it first.
The spigot idea is good. I have about a dozen two gallon buckets (with nice seals, gotten from homebrew shops). I could get a few spigots and install them. I think the homebrew shops will do it for me but I also have a drill press so I might be able to do it myself. I'll have to see if I have the proper size bit that won't rip the plastic to shreds (spade bits tend to do that).

Wouldn't I have to open up the fermenter to dry hop, spigot or no?

I ordered the bucket screen and some tea infusers from Amazon. I'll pop by my local homebrew shop to look for the mesh bags and spigots.

I'm not clear on how to bottle from the fermenter (without spigots). Would I attach the bottling wand directly to the hose end of the siphon? I don't think I can manipulate both ends at the same time without sucking all the trub and crap out of the bottom of the primary fermenter.

Does it make any sense to rack to secondary before fermentation is complete? On the assumption that the continued fermentation will quickly scrub out any oxygen?
 

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Wouldn't I have to open up the fermenter to dry hop, spigot or no?
Yes, but if you do it quickly and during active fermentation it's not so bad. But you could also just experiment first with no dry hops, and as much O2 avoidance as possible to see if it makes a difference.

I'm not clear on how to bottle from the fermenter (without spigots).
Don't. It's a PITA and will undermine your O2 avoidance efforts.

Does it make any sense to rack to secondary before fermentation is complete? On the assumption that the continued fermentation will quickly scrub out any oxygen?
No; there's no point, and this "scrubbing" does not actually happen.
 

bwible

Born to brew, forced to work
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I’ve never had luck adding sugar directly to each bottle. First is the sanitation issue. Second is the math required and minute measurements. Anybody ever try to reload .25 caliber bullets?

Batch priming is where I’ve had the best success. You’re measuring a bigger quantity of sugar and boiling that in a small amount of water, which should solve any sanitation issues.

I’m bottling 30 at a time with mixed success depending on which priming calculator I use. And I do own a gram scale. It understandably has to be even harder at the 1 gallon level.
 
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