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Tips for Whole Hops IPA - Lots of hops

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Omahawk

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I just received a bunch of whole hops (Chinook, Cascade, Centennial and Zeus) from a local grower. They were dried, vacuum sealed, and tested for alpha and beta %s. Seems pretty legit, so I’m giving them a whirl. I’m thinking of throwing 11 oz of them into a 5-gallon batch. My plan would be 1 oz Zeus for bittering at 60 min, and then 10 oz Cascade, Centennial and Chinook at flameout or hop stand.

I’ve brewed for 8-9 years, but almost exclusively with pellet hops. I’ve only used whole hops an ounce at a time till this point. I’ve read the typical articles comparing whole hops vs. pellets, but none of them are really talking about this large amount of whole hop material. Here are some questions I have:

1) How much wort will ~11 oz leaf whole hops absorb?
2) Pros and Cons of putting them in a hop bag to be able to pull them out of the fermenter? I don’t currently have a false bottom or valve in my boil kettle. I just pour the cooled wort through a strainer and funnel into the fermenter. I’m guessing it will take several cleanings of the strainer to get all my wort in the fermenter.
3) Do I grind them up a little to increase the exposed surface area for flavor? For bittering / isomerization?
4) Any differences in flavor and aroma extraction for whole hops with a hop stand (20 minutes @170F) vs pellets?

Basically, I suspect that with this quantity of whole hops there is something process-wise that’s going to be really different from my pellet hop experiences. Something that I haven’t considered yet, and it’ll trip me up. Thanks in advance.
 

bkboiler

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my understanding is that the commercial breweries generally have something analagous to a hop spider or dam for the boil and a hop back to use just after the boil (like the blichman hop rocket).
Not sure how they approach dry hopping although I’ve seen some 300 micron ss mesh canisters that are ideal for keg hopping whole cone....
 

micraftbeer

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I'm guessing based on your description, whatever you make might not be super repeatable from a hop perspective anyway, so it's just have fun with it. Seems guaranteed you'll have a lot of mess to deal with. But knowing that going in is a good thing rather than freaking out at end of brew session. Seems like a hop spider it hop bag is a great idea. Several cleanings of strainer while pouring from kettle seems like a recipe for a mess and a lot of swearing. If you don't do the hop bag route, you could always use your strainer (sanitized if you're going in post chill) to scoop a bunch out before you start pupouri to transfer. Then still pour through strainer, but might get away with less pauses for cleaning.
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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my understanding is that the commercial breweries generally have something analagous to a hop spider or dam for the boil and a hop back to use just after the boil (like the blichman hop rocket).
Not sure how they approach dry hopping although I’ve seen some 300 micron ss mesh canisters that are ideal for keg hopping whole cone....
I might actually dry hop a little of this. Something like 3 oz (1 each Centennial, Cascade, Chinook) and put it in a bag. I like to go easy on the dry hops typically.

I'm guessing based on your description, whatever you make might not be super repeatable from a hop perspective anyway, so it's just have fun with it. Seems guaranteed you'll have a lot of mess to deal with. But knowing that going in is a good thing rather than freaking out at end of brew session. Seems like a hop spider it hop bag is a great idea. Several cleanings of strainer while pouring from kettle seems like a recipe for a mess and a lot of swearing. If you don't do the hop bag route, you could always use your strainer (sanitized if you're going in post chill) to scoop a bunch out before you start pupouri to transfer. Then still pour through strainer, but might get away with less pauses for cleaning.
Right on. I’m not looking to change my typical process, but this might turn into a fun, annual “one-off” beer.

That being said, I’m not looking to make my “one-off” brew day a miserable experience. That probably means I should put the hops in a bag to submerge them and then pull them after the hop stand. I’m guessing I should grind up the hops a little, and drop them into a rather large bag so that I increase the wort exposure-to-hop surface ratio?
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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For absorption, should I assume something like 1/2 gallon of wort for 11 oz whole leaf hops?
 

micraftbeer

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I wouldn't grind them. It seems like you'd make a mess harder to clean up. I believe when making pellets, they get rid of leaves before grinding. So grinding them up you'll get little bits of leaves floating that are a nightmare to clean.
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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I wouldn't grind them. It seems like you'd make a mess harder to clean up. I believe when making pellets, they get rid of leaves before grinding. So grinding them up you'll get little bits of leaves floating that are a nightmare to clean.
Drop them into the bag as-is?
 

BrewInspector

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No grinding. Leave them whole.
Use a bag to keep them contained.
Allow to drain or even squeeze on removal before transfer to fermenter.
Putting through a strainer sounds problematic especially if there is a lot of debris. Why not siphon? Pellet and whole hops mostly settle quickly.
 

micraftbeer

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I don't profess to have great knowledge of leaf hops, because I don't. So this is just my opinion. I would do the bag. Or let them roam free and use your strainer to scoop them out afterwards before wort transfer.
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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Why not siphon? Pellet and whole hops mostly settle quickly.
I have the large capacity siphon and I could definitely do that. With my typical process, I just look at it as one more thing to clean. This time, it’s probably a good idea.
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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Or let them roam free and use your strainer to scoop them out afterwards before wort transfer.
This is actually pretty brilliant. It can’t be too hard to fish them out with my giant strainer.
 
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Omahawk

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Do I need a longer (or hotter) hop stand since the leaf hop lupulin glands aren’t as “available” as they are in pellets?
 
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I ended up doing 1 ounce Zeus whole leaf hops for bittering and 10 ounces whole leaf Chinook, Centennial and Cascade hops at flame out for a 20 minute hot steep. I let them float free in the wort with me stirring and “dunking” them during the hot steep. I then strained them out and let the wort drain, but only slightly squeezed them to extract wort from the leaf hops. I was very gentle here as I wanted to avoid any tannin extraction from hop matter.

I have to admit that it’s underwhelming on the hop flavors and I’m disappointed.

I don’t know if the hops were handled improperly during drying (the supplier seemed to know what he was doing) or if I didn’t make the lupulin available through my process. Maybe I should have squeezed more of the liquid from the leaf hops. It tastes fine and subtle, but no different than a basic pale ale. I could have achieved this taste from 2 ounces pellets at flameout.
 
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