First Wort Hopping - White Paper (Sort of)

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BierMuncher

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I am not ashamed to say I stole this write up about First Wort Hopping. Very interesting stuff. I m ay have to give this a try if I can figure out how to compensate a FWH addition in Beersmith.

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

PseudoChef

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Great write-up, thanks for the info. I've never seen it.

In Beersmith just pull-down the "Hop Use" menu and First Wort is in there.
 

mr x

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I've begun experimenting with FWH my brews. I think it has a lot of potential.
 

BrianP

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I just read about FWH in the copy of How To Brew that I received for Christmas.

I did it on the stout I just brewed, so I'm anxious to see how it worked. Palmer says that it is a subtle improvement, resulting in a more balanced hop profile.

As Chef said, there is a check box in BeerSmith for FWH, and by experimenting with it I think it increases the IBU by about 8-10% depending on the quantity of hops used and their AA%.
 

kaptain_karma

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Wow, I've never heard of FWH before, but based on the above I'm definitely going to start experimenting. Thanks for the info.
 

Schlenkerla

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Funny that you posted this, I was gonna ask about this. I found FW as a selection in promash. I had no idea what it was...

Thanks!!!

:mug:
 

Funkenjaeger

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I've been first-wort hopping nearly every beer I've brewed since I read that article originally. Soon I'll be tasting the first two really hop-centric beers I've brewed with FWH - a 60-min IPA and a modification of Ed's Haus Pale Ale. I can't wait.

It's very easy to deal with, since Beersmith now has FWH capability. Based on the article, I've been basically building a recipe with traditional hop additions, hitting a target IBU, and then switching it to FWH and not compensating for the increased bitterness.

The only thing I haven't really figured out for certain is exactly which additions to move to FWH. It's supposed to give good flavor and some aroma, so I've been moving a chunk of both my flavor and aroma additions to FWH, but so far I've mainly just been winging it each time when formulating a recipe, rather than knowing just how much to shift over. We'll see how that goes.
 

Evets

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Funkenjaeger said:
The only thing I haven't really figured out for certain is exactly which additions to move to FWH. It's supposed to give good flavor and some aroma, so I've been moving a chunk of both my flavor and aroma additions to FWH, but so far I've mainly just been winging it each time when formulating a recipe, rather than knowing just how much to shift over. We'll see how that goes.
Yeah, I;m in the same boat.
Since I heard of FWH I've made some half-assed, un-educated attempts. In fact, as I type, I'm brewing the 888 RIS. I FWHed .5oz Warrior and 1oz. Fuggles. Of course, I have nothing to compare the results to, I'm just hoping for a good beer.
I ain't scared.;)
 

EinGutesBier

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Next on my list of to-do experiments. First wort hopping coupled with late hop additions. To me, that means only one thing: a big IPA for hop heads like me. : D
 

Chriso

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IIRC from a fun, drunken afternoon conversation, Bugeater pretty much exclusively uses FWH and Flame-Out hopping, very rarely any other additions. Since then, I've replaced my 60 minute adds with FWH instead, and kept all other adds to the 20-0 minute range.
 

strangebrewer

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nice post, I've never heard of this till tonight when I was reading a recipie that called for it. The only question I have about it is how do I add this to beersmith to determine IBU's? Use a 60 min boil?
 

slim chillingsworth

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phewey said:
nice post, I've never heard of this till tonight when I was reading a recipie that called for it. The only question I have about it is how do I add this to beersmith to determine IBU's? Use a 60 min boil?

beersmith has an option for FWH. when you add hops to your recipe you can change the "hop use" to FWH
 

conpewter

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I want to FWH an IPA I'm planning (First IPA...). I am doing it all with Centennial and cascade. Should I simply put my bittering addition of centennial in as a FWH or would it be better to move some of my aroma and flavor additions back to FWH and add the bittering addition at 60 min like usual?
 

SpanishCastleAle

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I've been doing it since January when I started this thread about it. But no controls to quantify (or even qualify) the effect it has. I do know that none of my early beers have any aroma to speak of.

FWH will add more bitterness than a 60 min. addition but since it is a smoother bitterness it's often treated (and calculated) as a 20 minute addition.

A few people said they got zero aroma from FWH. I haven't gotten any aroma from it but it was small quantities.

I like the idea of nothing but FWH and late aroma additions...I'm gonna try that this weekend.
 

Saccharomyces

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I did a pale ale with FWH of Centennial and didn't like the results, the hop flavor was a bit harsh, so I ended up blending the batch with a blonde ale to get a drinkable beer. With an IPA it would work better I think. If you wanted to tread carefully you could do 50/50 with a FWH and 60 minute addition....
 

leurne

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Some one have the detail of the reaction during the FWH? My god palmer said :

The aromatic oils are normally insoluble and tend to evaporate to a large degree during the boil. By letting the hops steep in the wort prior to the boil, the oils have more time to oxidize to more soluble compounds and a greater percentage are retained during the boil.
 

_JP_

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Since this thread's been brought back from the dead, I'll add that FWH'ing should not be used in place of your bittering hops addition during the boil. I tried that with a batch this past spring, and hardly got any bittering out of it.

From my experiment, I concur that FWH bittering potential approximately equals a 20 min addition.
 

WhenInMinnesota

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I want to FWH an IPA I'm planning (First IPA...). I am doing it all with Centennial and cascade. Should I simply put my bittering addition of centennial in as a FWH or would it be better to move some of my aroma and flavor additions back to FWH and add the bittering addition at 60 min like usual?
My understanding of FWH would be to keep your 60 minute bittering addition of Centennial and use some of your aroma/flavor hop additions as a FWH.
 

LandoLincoln

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Other attempts were made to actually hop the mash (!!)

So...you're NOT supposed to do that. Huh.

I'm going to have to go back to our last IIPA notes and check on how we did our FWH.

I think we may have done that very thing.

On the plus side, the beer we made from that batch was just transferred to secondary and seems to be quite pleasant. Very citrusy, but pleasant.
 

_JP_

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Other attempts were made to actually hop the mash (!!)

So...you're NOT supposed to do that. Huh.

I'm going to have to go back to our last IIPA notes and check on how we did our FWH.

I think we may have done that very thing.

On the plus side, the beer we made from that batch was just transferred to secondary and seems to be quite pleasant. Very citrusy, but pleasant.
Historically, there are accounts of brewers mashing with hops. It's not technically "First Wort Hopping" though, but I'm sure it works. it just takes up more precious room in the mash tun (if whole hops are used).

More info:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/mash-hopping-4182/
 

nootay

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i use summit a lot for bittering. someone once told me that summit is a great bittering hop, but not with FWH. apparently onion tastes can be detected with summit when used as a FWH. just something to consider. I have done several FWH beers, but none with summit because of this
 

tagz

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all of a sudden i have this strange urge to buy a backpack... northface maybe
 

sj_engr

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I would have expected them to adjust the hop addition such that the three brews all had the same IBU. But great read regardless, thanks.

May give it a go....
 

Woodbury419

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I'm curious on FWH my all time favorite hops Challenger and Hallertau Mittlefruh with my Amber ale would be like. I might craft it this coming weekend or the next.
 

gwcr

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I just FWH an APA and bottled it 1.5 weeks ago. This was a recipe that was not a FWH the first time around. I took 30% of the flavor/aroma additions and moved them to FWH. Left the bittering addition alone. The sample at bottling was very smooth, no harsh bittering like the previous batch, great flavor and aroma, and the IBUs ended up about 10% higher. Going to be difficult to wait another couple weeks for the first bottle...
 

Woodbury419

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gwcr said:
I just FWH an APA and bottled it 1.5 weeks ago. This was a recipe that was not a FWH the first time around. I took 30% of the flavor/aroma additions and moved them to FWH. Left the bittering addition alone. The sample at bottling was very smooth, no harsh bittering like the previous batch, great flavor and aroma, and the IBUs ended up about 10% higher. Going to be difficult to wait another couple weeks for the first bottle...
So you didn't keep your original late addition hops? Please update when you get a chance!
 

gwcr

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So you didn't keep your original late addition hops? Please update when you get a chance!
I did still have the late additions, just took 30% of them and moved to FWH. For example, if you have 1oz of cascade as a flavor addition, move 0.3oz to FWH, and keep 0.7oz as the flavor addition (just used those amounts for easy math :p ). Basically take 30% of whatever is NOT a bittering addition and move it to FWH. Leave everything else alone. That is how I understand the process after quite a lot of research, but of course there are differing opinions out there. Will know for sure how well it works in a couple more weeks!
 

DrDarwin

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What would the equivalent of FWH be in a BIAB process? Would you add hops to the mash, or immediately after (which is well before a full boil obviously)? Is it even really possible in BIAB brewing?
 

gwcr

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What would the equivalent of FWH be in a BIAB process? Would you add hops to the mash, or immediately after (which is well before a full boil obviously)? Is it even really possible in BIAB brewing?
This very one was in fact a BIAB. As soon as I pulled the bag, I dropped in the FWH addition. By the time I drained, squeezed, sparged (I add a 10 minute mash out/sparge step in a separate pot), drained and squeezed again the hops had been steeping for about 20 minutes. It took about another 10 minutes to get up to a boil, so it was close to a 30 minute steep for the hops before the boil started.
 

Woodbury419

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I did still have the late additions, just took 30% of them and moved to FWH. For example, if you have 1oz of cascade as a flavor addition, move 0.3oz to FWH, and keep 0.7oz as the flavor addition (just used those amounts for easy math :p ). Basically take 30% of whatever is NOT a bittering addition and move it to FWH. Leave everything else alone. That is how I understand the process after quite a lot of research, but of course there are differing opinions out there. Will know for sure how well it works in a couple more weeks!
Wuurd! I will be definitely FWH this weekend for the first time. I can't wait for your results, it seems some people have mixed feelings about FWH. Although I haven't had any experience personally yet i can't wait to try it!
 

frailn

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This very one was in fact a BIAB. As soon as I pulled the bag, I dropped in the FWH addition. By the time I drained, squeezed, sparged (I add a 10 minute mash out/sparge step in a separate pot), drained and squeezed again the hops had been steeping for about 20 minutes. It took about another 10 minutes to get up to a boil, so it was close to a 30 minute steep for the hops before the boil started.
I do BIAB, as well, and appreciate you posting your info on FWH with BIAB. I intend to give this a try on my next brew day. My city water tends to be bring out a sharper bitterness in my hops. Trying FWH to see if I can smooth it out a bit without messing with water chemistry for now.
 

LakewoodHomeBrew

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gwcr said:
This very one was in fact a BIAB. As soon as I pulled the bag, I dropped in the FWH addition. By the time I drained, squeezed, sparged (I add a 10 minute mash out/sparge step in a separate pot), drained and squeezed again the hops had been steeping for about 20 minutes. It took about another 10 minutes to get up to a boil, so it was close to a 30 minute steep for the hops before the boil started.
I follow this same process. Although, I have not done a comparison brew without fwh, so I cannot comment on the effectiveness.
 

kansas_cty_shfl

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Anyone know if the amount of time it takes to get to a boil affects this at all? I brew on my stove-top so there would probably be about an hour from the time I did a FWH until it actually got up to a boil, not sure if that's too long or if it doesn't make any difference.
 

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kansas_cty_shfl said:
Anyone know if the amount of time it takes to get to a boil affects this at all? I brew on my stove-top so there would probably be about an hour from the time I did a FWH until it actually got up to a boil, not sure if that's too long or if it doesn't make any difference.
I only tried FWH for the first time this weekend, so my answer is theoretical, but I'd think that the amount of time is not too important. Given that boils over 60 minutes produce relatively little additional bitterness, FWH should not get out of control with bittering no matter how long it takes to reach the boiling point.

"All your home brew are belong to us!"
 

DrDarwin

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gwcr said:
This very one was in fact a BIAB. As soon as I pulled the bag, I dropped in the FWH addition. By the time I drained, squeezed, sparged (I add a 10 minute mash out/sparge step in a separate pot), drained and squeezed again the hops had been steeping for about 20 minutes. It took about another 10 minutes to get up to a boil, so it was close to a 30 minute steep for the hops before the boil started.
Great! Thanks for the response and the details. I'm definite going to have to give this a try.
 

gwcr

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Originally Posted by gwcr
I did still have the late additions, just took 30% of them and moved to FWH. For example, if you have 1oz of cascade as a flavor addition, move 0.3oz to FWH, and keep 0.7oz as the flavor addition (just used those amounts for easy math ). Basically take 30% of whatever is NOT a bittering addition and move it to FWH. Leave everything else alone. That is how I understand the process after quite a lot of research, but of course there are differing opinions out there. Will know for sure how well it works in a couple more weeks!
Wuurd! I will be definitely FWH this weekend for the first time. I can't wait for your results, it seems some people have mixed feelings about FWH. Although I haven't had any experience personally yet i can't wait to try it!
So I forgot how to read a calendar, and tried this one a bit early (2.5 weeks in the bottle). I am now a firm believer in FWH for this APA. Very smooth bittering compared to my non-FWH batch of the same recipe. Great flavor. Aroma was a little on the light side, but still there. Perhaps that will improve with a little more time.

FWH really improved this recipe for me. Will definitely be doing it again! :ban:
 
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