sterilizing dry hop additions in the oven?

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Well-Known Member
Dec 13, 2007
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huntsville, alabama
I've not usually attempted any sterilization of my dry hop additions in the past; however, I'm about to add a handful of oven-sterilized oak chips to a DFH 90-min IPA when I rack it to secondary. Bad idea to throw the hops in the oven, too? Is the dry heat a problem?
From a micriobiological standpoint sanitization is the reduction of infectious agents to an "acceptable" level, whereas sterilization is the removal or inactivation of such agents entirely. A dry prolonged heating regimine at 350°F is guaranteed to throw a wrench into all micriobiological machinery, even for most viruses and prions, although I don't believe I need to worry about contracting scrapie from a homebrew. We have used this methodology (hot-air sterilization oven) in some micriobiology labs I've worked in, where most protocols call for a 2-hour bake at 320-330°F. So...yes...I am sterilizing.
Please don't sterelize the hops, it will destroy them. Hops have anti-bacterial properties, dry-hopping infections are extremely rare, you don't have to worry.
ddroukas said:
So...yes...I am sterilizing.

Until the moment you take them out of the oven.

I'm a biochemist, I know my techniques. Either way, you don't need to do anything to the hops. They're a natural preservative.
I'm not a microbiologist (although I really appreciate their input on this forum) but I agree, just dump the hops right onto the wort in the secondary. Hops are a preservative and the alcohol present in the secondary will take care of the rest. I've never had a problem. I did just read though that another brewer here puts his hop pellets (I assume it would work for leaf too) into a glass of boiling water first. This not only sterilizes, but according to the OG, releases the aromatic qualities for the hops. Something to think about and something I will try my next batch.:mug:
Like everything else on this site, the only thing that matters is what's on the bottom of your pint. Mines's pretty darn tasty. But I do watch a lot of TV! Then there's the whole issue of hopping during the mash........
Heating hops enough to sterilize them will drive off all of the oils you want in your beer. Think about it, we only boil aroma hops for 5 minutes. 2 hours at 350F = toasty flavorless flakes.
I agree with david_42 here.

It's as Papazian says. Hops are flowers. In a sense that's everything you need to know about them.
So a good idea might be to make a small bit of everclear hop mush? :D Well really I don't think it's a bad idea to get them all wet with strong vodka before throwing them in if you are worried. But it's true that originally hops were used for their preservative qualities so I generally do not worry about them introducing infection to the seconary.
mr x said:
Maybe just soak them in a small amount of strong ethyl alcohol and then dump the whole mush in.

I wouldn't give him any ideas...

Throw the stuff in there and forget about it ;)
MikeFlynn74 said:
WHAT? isnt there alcohol in your beer? That should be more than plenty to sterilize
The alcoholic content of most beers is not the ideal environment for most organisms but it is far from strong enough to sterilize. Since there are yeasts that survive past 20% ABV and some bacterias that convert alcohol to acetic acid there is some concern about sanitation even after fermentation. However as was mentioned there should be little concern and hops are somewhat anti-microbial themselves.

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