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Dry hopping gone wrong or ???

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marke14

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Hey guys, I’m hoping you all might be able to help me here.
I’ve been home brewing for a couple of years now. Like a lot of people, I started with an extract kit and have been building up from there.

More recently I stepped up to a BIAB set up. I’ve been enjoying the improvements as I’ve leveled up various bits of gear and refined processes. For example, I got myself a chest freezer with an Inkbird temp controller for fermentation control (plus a heat lamp in there when it’s cold), bought an oxygenation wand and stone, purge the keg with CO2 before transfer, use RO water with calcium carbonate and
and make yeast starters now. All the usual home brewing stepping stones.

One thing I have never done, is rack to a secondary. I just end up doing 3 to 4 weeks in the primary fermentor.

My question is: when I try to make IPAs or DIPAs that have any kind of significant dry hop load (I use a nylon hop bag so I don’t lose so much beer), the result is ... not good or what I expected. There’s plenty of ABV, but I’m getting weird color and flavor.

The color I would say has a - well - purple-ish tint to it. See the pictures
The flavor is ... not good on the first sip. It’s hard to explain ... earthy ... but not like juicy, or hoppy really. It’s bitter but not over the top. It’s drinkable but I’m not proud of the result to the point of sharing it so I’ve got some drinking to do ... a DIPA recipe is not cheap as you guys know, even at 5 gallons.

Is my beer spoiled? Am I at the point where I now need to mind my mash Ph, something I’ve never measured before? Or what else should I be thinking about to overcome these issues? I’d say this is perhaps the third IPA batch this has happened to at this point.

I took a couple of pics to try to show different lighting.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have.
 

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Harleybrew32

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the second photo looks like it might be oxidized, do you get any off flavors like wet cardboard?
when i dry hop i just toss them in near the end of fermentation so the yeast can consume any O2 from the hops. what is your dry hop amount and when do you put them in?
cheers
 

wsmith1625

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They both look oxidized to me. What is your dry hopping processes. Also, what kind of fermenter are you using and how often are you opening it up?
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, "wet cardboard" and "sherry" characters are pretty much end-points in the oxidative process.
Waaay before those are loss of aroma, followed by attenuating flavor and bitterness, to where the beer can become a cloying mess.
Somewhere down the road from there is the "wet cardboard", and even further comes the "sherry"...

Cheers!
 

IslandLizard

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Sadly, yes, your beer is oxidized.
As @day_trippr said, it manifests itself rather quickly in loss of hop sensation (aroma/flavor), and becoming murky.

purge the keg with CO2 before transfer
Look into doing transferring into 100% liquid pre-purged kegs, through the liquid-out post. Also closed transfers, or near closed transfers. Any oxygen (air) ingress, after fermentation starts, kills your beer. The hoppier the beer, the quicker.

Look in the various active IPA and NEIPA threads for methods people use to prevent air from entering.
 
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IslandLizard

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use RO water with calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate isn't going to do anything, it doesn't dissolve much in water.
You need Calcium Chloride and Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) to tweak your water chemistry for IPAs.

And likely some acid, such as Lactic Acid, typically sold in 2-4 oz bottles at 88% concentration in the brew store.

Phosphoric Acid is good too, but for some completely unexplained reason it's way too expensive in a brew store, it's only 10% and costs more. :tank: I bought a gallon of 85% from Duda Diesel and split it with a bunch of other brewers. They also sell quarts.

Use a water calculator such as Bru'n Water (free version is fine) to calculate your mineral additions. Using RO water makes it very easy.
But if your tap water is good and soft, low in minerals, that can be used instead. That would save you $3-5 a brew.
 
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marke14

marke14

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My bad, calcium chloride. I bought it at the LHBS, got the name wrong there.

Yes, wet cardboard is not far off. It definitely doesn't taste good. I don't suppose there's any fixing it right?

I do transfer into the keg via the out post/dip tube, indeed.

The dry hops in this case were in a nylon bag. I sanitized it and dried it out a bit, added the 2 oz of hops plus one of my magnetic stir bars for weight (a few actually) and open up my 7 gal FerMonster, which I only ever open up that one time. I added them on day 3 of fermentation, when it was boomin'. I attach the bag with a bit of floss which I lead up to the rubber stopper/airlock. I did that because once when I left it in there without the transfer spigot was blocked by the bag. Plus this way I can extract a little more beer (perhaps this is adding O2?). Is there any way to hedge against absorbtion loss with massive dry hopping?

It's funny, those times I did not use the bag I think the batches came out tasty. 🤔 Certainly the kolsch I did immediately prior was great.
 

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Both samples look heavily oxidised, with the second one being worst. I would not use a bag to dry hop, as extraction will be poorer. Hops should go in loose. There is no need for stirring, agitating the vessel, etc. 2 oz for DIPA is far from enough. 2 oz is what I would dry hop a Light Pilsner/Blonde Ale with. Oxidation is the main enemy of hoppy beers, but not the only one. There are really great threads on this forum, that have a lot of great ideas and practices on how to reduce oxidation and on how to make sure you do everything right. The freshness of your grains, hops, yeast matters. The quality of the water used and the way you treat it for brewing will matter. It also matters how you add the dryhops, and how many times you open your fermenter. Do you purge headspace? Packaging is where most times, the most oxidation will occur.
 
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marke14

marke14

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Is that keg first filled 100% with Starsan (or water) then pushed out? Lid remains on until next cleaning. That's one of only 2 ways to get close to a residual O2 level of 0.01 ppm.
No, that is not how I did it. I will try that going forward though, thanks for the tip.
 
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marke14

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Both samples look heavily oxidised, with the second one being worst. I would not use a bag to dry hop, as extraction will be poorer. Hops should go in loose. There is no need for stirring, agitating the vessel, etc. 2 oz for DIPA is far from enough. 2 oz is what I would dry hop a Light Pilsner/Blonde Ale with. Oxidation is the main enemy of hoppy beers, but not the only one. There are really great threads on this forum, that have a lot of great ideas and practices on how to reduce oxidation and on how to make sure you do everything right. The freshness of your grains, hops, yeast matters. The quality of the water used and the way you treat it for brewing will matter. It also matters how you add the dryhops, and how many times you open your fermenter. Do you purge headspace? Packaging is where most times, the most oxidation will occur.
Sorry I think I mistyped ... it was more than that, either 4 or 6 oz. This recipe called for a second DH but I'll be damned if I can find those (still, even today!). The hop gremlins ran off with them or something.

One of my batches that went south was not DH in a bag, and I ended up losing like 1.5 gallons due to pellet absorbtion. Do you guys just suck it up and mentally write that volume off when you know you have a lot of DH going in?

In terms of purging headspace, do you mean when you bottle? Never have done that either. When I mentioned that I had tried to purge the kegs before hand, that was like this - sterilizer (StarSan), sterilize the kegerator beer lines with that, dump it out, put a spare CO2 line to the bottom of the keg, and let it run for a few minutes. I'll try the method to start with it full of sanitizer or water and push it out with the CO2.

A few folks have mentioned it, so I'll answer: I don't agitate the fermentor or open it or even touch it if I don't have to. It goes into the chest freezer and stays there for 3 or 4 weeks until I package, unless there are DH going in, then I only open it long enough to get them in.

I take it there is no correcting the beer once it's been oxidized? Dump it out $$$$ bye bye?
 

agentbud

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I agree on the oxidation. I was getting similar results with my DH IPAs. Never got to the wet carboard taste but definite oxidation and loss of aroma. I made a concerted effort to eliminate as much oxygen as possible and it made a huge improvement. I now cold crash with co2 run through a cask breather to prevent air suck-back and close-transfer into a star-san-filled / co2 purged keg (also using the cask breather to keep the flow going with co2). The only time I introduce oxygen is during DH, so I need to work on that, but the other steps made big improvements.
 

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One of my batches that went south was not DH in a bag, and I ended up losing like 1.5 gallons due to pellet absorbtion. Do you guys just suck it up and mentally write that volume off when you know you have a lot of DH going in?
I frequently brew NEIPAs using a total of 6-10 oz of dry hops in a 5.5-6 gallon batch. I do agitate, stir under CO2 once or twice a day, which helps getting the hop pulp submerged and hopefully for a faster and more complete extraction/dispersion. There's no green hop carpet floating on top of the beer.
I like the results and have not encountered oxidation problems using that method.

I cold crash when done, also under CO2. All hop matter precipitates, leaving clear (or hazy, or milkshake) beer on top.
After transferring to the keg, there's usually about an inch of trub left on the bottom of the bucket, mostly yeast and dry hop pulp.* That's about 1/2-3/4 gallon all together with some leftover beer.

*Note: Kettle hops are bagged (plate chiller!) and I can do fairly clean transfers from the kettle. IOW, there's very little kettle trub being transferred to the fermenter (bucket). That surely helps reducing the trub amount in the fermenter later.
 

IslandLizard

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No, that is not how I did it. I will try that going forward though, thanks for the tip.
Look around for that process. There are a few details to pay attention to.

The essence is there should be no air left before pushing it all out. truly 100% full of Starsan. Any residual air (O2) that remained, you won't be able to get rid off, after the full liquid purge is completed.
For all security, after I push out the first pint of Starsan (measured) I purge that small headspace under 30 psi a few times (5x). Just in case an air bubble got trapped somewhere. Then push the rest out.
 
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marke14

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Thanks for the replies everyone. This is great stuff right here!

Can anyone elaborate on how you do this bit re: “cask breather” during cold crashing? I know that as the temp drops and the air in the headspace gets denser and smaller, indeed it sucks air back in via the air lock. How do you ensure that CO2 is breathed in during cold crashing?

do you do the same when packaging? I wou think that it would matter in that scenario.

yeah, in terms of huge dry hop loads, one batch had something crazy like 10 oz of DH. I did just dump it in loose and after a few days of the green floating mat, I did swirl the FerMonster to get it to submerge. Would you all recommend doing that if you end up with lots of hop material floating on top?

Here are some old pics. I lost all that volume (this was in a glass carboy not the FerMonster obviously...)
835A3863-64DC-4899-B35D-894C27F2EB25.jpeg
1978CCDF-2A36-4402-B249-D1F485BE34DA.jpeg
 

VikeMan

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One of my batches that went south was not DH in a bag, and I ended up losing like 1.5 gallons due to pellet absorbtion.
Hmmm. I don't know what happened to your 1.5 gallons of beer, but I would need to use about 60 ounces of pellet hops to lose 1.5 gallons, with an absorption of about 0.025 gallons per ounce.

ETA: Looking at your pics, it looks like the hops didn't compact much. That's can be just a matter of time.
 

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Thanks for the replies everyone. This is great stuff right here!

Can anyone elaborate on how you do this bit re: “cask breather” during cold crashing? I know that as the temp drops and the air in the headspace gets denser and smaller, indeed it sucks air back in via the air lock. How do you ensure that CO2 is breathed in during cold crashing?
see attached pics. my blow-off hose has a quick disconnect that you can just see at the bottom of that hose loop. During fermentation I have a short piece of hose (second pic showing hose layout) connected to that QD and run into a bucket of starsan. When I get ready to cold crash, I disconnect that short section and attach the cask breather as shown in the picture. Connected to the top side of the cask breather is a mini-co2 regulator set at about 5-8 psi. The brew bucket fermenter is NOT pressure capable but the cask breather keeps the pressure between the regulator and the fermenter at atmospheric pressure. So it only allows co2 through as the negative pressure is created in the fermenter during cold crash, keeping it all even. When it is time to keg (which is what is happening in the first pic), I hook up a hose from my drain valve to the liquid post of the keg (keg has been filled/purged), open the valve and also open the pressure relief pin on the keg. As the fermenter drains, the cask breather allows just enough co2 to push the beer out. The only thing I might change for next time is the co2 cartridge. I went through about 2 1/2 of the 16g cartridges so I was having to change them during the kegging process.
 

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marke14

marke14

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agentbud, thank you for the detailed write up and pictures. I will try to rig up something like that. I’ll need a regulator that can handle that sort of thing; does it have a name?

I do have a spare regulator, I used to have a freshwater planted fish tank, and I have a high end reg from that - however it just provides a steady pressure; do you need something fancy to pull this kind of thing off?

Second Q - if I focus on the liquid CO2 purge pre-legging, is that more crucial in terms of preventing oxydization than worrying about what I imagine is far less atmospheric O2 getting in during the cold crash suck back (lol)?
 

agentbud

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agentbud, thank you for the detailed write up and pictures. I will try to rig up something like that. I’ll need a regulator that can handle that sort of thing; does it have a name?

I do have a spare regulator, I used to have a freshwater planted fish tank, and I have a high end reg from that - however it just provides a steady pressure; do you need something fancy to pull this kind of thing off?

Second Q - if I focus on the liquid CO2 purge pre-legging, is that more crucial in terms of preventing oxydization than worrying about what I imagine is far less atmospheric O2 getting in during the cold crash suck back (lol)?
Regulator - nothing fancy but from what I have read on cask breathers you only want to push 5-8 psi to it so you need a regulator that can reliably hold lower pressures. I picked up this one at amazon for $28: Robot Check along with some 16g threaded co2 cartridges (or bigger if you can find ones that are same thread). ps - cask breathers in the US are $90+ because they are not as commonly used. I found a good deal from a UK shop and bought 5 to make shipping worth it. Sold most of them. I think I have 1 left. If interested, $65 shipped.

Not sure I know enough of oxidation to reliably answer your second question. I have read enough to know that any oxygen can be bad on hoppy beers. I can say that when I took all these steps I saw a marked improvement in taste/aroma and longevity of the beer holding up.

Also, in the set up I am using now, the QDs are important as they allow you to switch hoses around without letting oxygen in.
 

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The essence is there should be no air left before pushing it all out. truly 100% full of Starsan. Any residual air (O2) that remained, you won't be able to get rid off, after the full liquid purge is completed.
Just to follow up on this key point because you’re getting a lot of advice. The reason you want to start with a full receiving keg of Starsan is that most brewers do not purge the receiving keg enough when it’s full of air. Most of us purge it maybe 5x and call it good, when studies suggest that you’d need about 16 purges at 30 psi to get to where you want to be. Expensive use of gas. Alternatively, if the keg is first filled with sanitized liquid, then you can push all the liquid out with CO2, and you’ll have a fully purged tank (and use less CO2 to do it).

Fairly technical article on this here...but the gist of it is why folks who are fanatical about O2 advocate for this approach.
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, a much less expensive solution involves an $8 BBQ propane regulator used as a "secondary".
0.4 psi with no worries about maladjustment or regulator creep...

Cheers!
 
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Harleybrew32

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fwiw, a much less expensive solution involves an $8 BBQ propane regulator used as a "secondary".
0.4 psi with no worries about maladjustment or regulator creep...

Cheers!
is there a thread on this here? sounds interesting
 

Harleybrew32

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Just to follow up on this key point because you’re getting a lot of advice. The reason you want to start with a full receiving keg of Starsan is that most brewers do not purge the receiving keg enough when it’s full of air. Most of us purge it maybe 5x and call it good, when studies suggest that you’d need about 16 purges at 30 psi to get to where you want to be. Expensive use of gas. Alternatively, if the keg is first filled with sanitized liquid, then you can push all the liquid out with CO2, and you’ll have a fully purged tank (and use less CO2 to do it).

Fairly technical article on this here...but the gist of it is why folks who are fanatical about O2 advocate for this approach.
I sometimes sanitize the keg and leave an 1" of starsan in the keg, hook a line to the out on the keg to the fermentor and then another line to the keg out to a small container of starsan and then let the fermentation purge the keg, i think it may hold some hop aroma in there too, but im sure im wrong on that, but it makes me feel better. cheers
 

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most brewers do not purge the receiving keg enough when it’s full of air
Because you can't when purging gas with gas. You'd create a mixture each cycle, with diminishing returns after each subsequent fill/release cycle. Even after 20 purges at 30 psi there's still way too much O2 left, and you wasted 200 gallons of CO2 gas (40 x 5 gallons) in the process.
1 pound of carbon dioxide CO2 gas occupies 64 US gallons, so it would take over 3 pounds of CO2!

Now, purging 5.25 gallons of Starsan out of a fully filled corny keg at 15 psi will use 2 x 5.25 = 10.5 gallons of CO2.
If you're frugal and reduce the pushing pressure toward the end of the purge to 3-6 psi, you'd use around 6.5-8 gallons of CO2 gas or about 2 oz. ;)

studies suggest that you’d need about 16 purges at 30 psi to get to where you want to be
That won't even get you close to 0.01 ppm.
IIRC, the industry standard is half of that, 0.005 ppm (or 5 ppb, parts per billion) of O2 left in beer after packaging.
 
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