Using pellets in a hop bag

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Gonefishing

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I'm drinking a batch currently that is the only repeat of a recipe that I've ever done. I tried very hard to follow the recipe exactly, used the same ingredients, the same thermometer, same water, everything except I used a hop bag this time, and the first time just tossed them in the pot. I also strained the wort through a paint strainer when I poured into the fermenter, which I did not do the first time. I used another hop back when I dry-hopped it for a week too, whereas in attempt 1 I just tossed the pellets in the bucket. These two brews are as different as night and day! The first attempt resulted in a beautiful red ale with a slight citrus hint (Cascade hops) and which got absolute rave reviews from everyone that had a mug. This one is not as red (the second mug was redder than the first, which I had a couple of days ago though), has no citrus character, and just generally isn't going to have anyone raving about it.
So... I guess this gives me another reason to brew it. I'll go back to my old ways with it and see if it more closely resembles attempt 1 or 2.
Has anyone else had a similar experience when doing a repeat batch?
 

944play

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I've done the "same" recipe five times, but they're only subtly different (except for #2, which was horribly chlorophenolic).

Maybe the temperature during dry-hopping had something to do with it. But now you know that the hop sack is not worth the trouble.:D
 

Kugster

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I've done the "same" recipe five times, but they're only subtly different (except for #2, which was horribly chlorophenolic).

Maybe the temperature during dry-hopping had something to do with it. But now you know that the hop sack is not worth the trouble.:D
How is a hop sack "that much trouble"? I think it makes for "cleaner" beer...I don't always use one but I wouldn't think that the hops are going to change the color of the beer...things done in the brewing process and fermenting would contribute more to the final product. Fermenting temps do make a big difference on flavor tho...I have found that out. Here in AZ it can be a project to keep my fermenting temps low which I tasted the difference in the "same" reciepes I have done.
 

MikeG

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I was curious about trying to filter the wort going into the primary, I would think the aroma hops would still be doing their thing in primary and filtering them out would put a halt to that?
 
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Gonefishing

Gonefishing

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You may be right, and this may be what my problem with this beer is. I did dry hop it (hops in a suspended bag in the corny I secondaried in) but *it* just isn't there.
I just checked my notes and besides using a bag and filtering into the fermenter I left it in the primary 8 days longer the second time (18 as opposed to 10 days with round one) and in the secondary 2x as long. When I brew this the 3rd time I will revert to my old "toss everything in" technique and follow the time schedule of round one exactly. I ferment in the same place and use all the same equipment so that should increase my chances of a closer match to the results I got with the first attempt.
I did think the bag and the filtering would help with clarity, but to tell you the truth I have never brewed a clearer brew than attempt one was anyway so I don't know why I thought I should do this. Experimenting I guess.
 

Coastarine

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As the owner of a CFC, I always use a paint strainer mesh bag to contain my hops. If I only have one hop addition I'll just use a hop bag and drop it in. I've heard palmer and jamil discuss hop bags and they don't really like them, they say the hops need to be free, but it seems like more of a gut feeling than definitive results. I usually listen to everything they say but it isn't worth a clog in the chiller/pump.
 
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Do you use the same amount of hops as you would without the bag? Do you think you're getting the planned for IBUs?
 

Bobby_M

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I don't have hard data on the matter by any means but I have noticed a significant utilization drop when I started using hop bags. It's not a problem of IBUs but I feel like the short boil additions for flavor and especially aroma are being compromised using the bags.

Of course, the external heat exchange type chillers really require some level of filtration before hitting the bulkhead. If you're IC-chilling, it's a no brainer to just let the hops swim. If you drain via bulkhead, you'll just need some very coarse filtration like the choreboy scrubby. I have a plate chiller so I'm planning to build a "hop taco" out of some 30x30 stainless mesh. If that ends up being too fine and gets clogged, I'll back off to a 16x16 mesh. Any particle that gets through that will probably flow through a chiller just fine also.
 

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I was curious about trying to filter the wort going into the primary, I would think the aroma hops would still be doing their thing in primary and filtering them out would put a halt to that?
No, aroma hops added at the end of the boil doing their job in the kettle. Keeping them in the primary after doesn't hurt, but doesn't give any additional hop notes. Primary fermentation would scrub out any additional aroma, that's why you dry hop after fermentation

I don't have hard data on the matter by any means but I have noticed a significant utilization drop when I started using hop bags. It's not a problem of IBUs but I feel like the short boil additions for flavor and especially aroma are being compromised using the bags.
I also noticed less "hoppiness" when I used hops bag. I don't have a CFC or a bulkhead fitting to clog, so I just toss the hops in. Instead of a traditional hops bag where the hops may not be loose enough, some people make a great big hops sack and suspend it over the kettle with some screws. I'll see if I can find a picture.

One thing I noticed was when you use pellet hops in a bag, it seems like the wort just does go through the bag that easily. I think that is why I noticed lower utilization.
 

tokolosh

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One thing I noticed was when you use pellet hops in a bag, it seems like the wort just does go through the bag that easily. I think that is why I noticed lower utilization.

......:confused:

The wort was able to go through the bag easily, but that caused low utilization? Can you please clarify?
 

wildwest450

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......:confused:

The wort was able to go through the bag easily, but that caused low utilization? Can you please clarify?
I think she meant to say it doesn't go through the bag that easily.
I agree. My thought is that the bag will fill with wort but it doesn't circulate much, not like hops churning around in a good rolling boil.
That's why I won't use one
 

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I think she meant to say it doesn't go through the bag that easily.
I agree. My thought is that the bag will fill with wort but it doesn't circulate much, not like hops churning around in a good rolling boil.
That's why I won't use one
Yeah, oops- typo! The bag inflated but it didn't seem like the wort flowed through it, if that makes sense.
 

Aubie Stout

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I don't have hard data on the matter by any means but I have noticed a significant utilization drop when I started using hop bags. It's not a problem of IBUs but I feel like the short boil additions for flavor and especially aroma are being compromised using the bags.
Just did my first re-do beer. First one used no hop bag and I used a 5gal paint strainer bag for the second. MAJOR difference in hop utilization. Painter strainer bag goes away!
 

jason.mundy

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My understanding is that hop oils that bitter your beer are sticky. They like to stick to everything. Trub, the side of your kettle, your hop bag, ect... that is why Hop utilization goes down with higher gravity beers. There is more stuff for the hops to stick too.

By having the hop bag in there, you are giving the hops another thing to stick too, thus lowering your IBUs.

One idea would be to use more hops. And why not? They were $10 a pound the last time I ordered.
 

aubrey

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Yeah, oops- typo! The bag inflated but it didn't seem like the wort flowed through it, if that makes sense.
I could see that being the case for the folks using the paint strainer type attached to a plumbing fitting hanging in the middle of the kettle, in a fixed position. But I use muslin bags and just toss them in with a little butchers string tied to it and the handle of my kettle for easy retreival, but long enough to let the bag float around, and the bag bounces around all through the kettle. It'll sink for a while, then pop up in one place, then sink for a while again and then pop up in a different place.

I've only done two brews with them, but I haven't noticed the recipe being any less bitter/flavorful/aromatic (with regards to hops) than it should be.
 

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I have tried the choreboy scrubby in my kettle for me it does not work. I have a ball valve on my kettle with a pickup tube going to the side wall. I placed the scrubby between the pipe and the wall of the kettle(Shorter tube was used) and it clogged. My kettle is set to leave 1 gallon behind on pupose to leave the break material and trub behind, I still fight this issue as I have not had it work the way I ideally want. Whirlpooling does not work for me either, I get a flat layer of junk every time.
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HIM_Tattoos

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Brew-boy; not to thread jack or anything but is that the therowell or the temp prob above your diptube?
 

Fishin-Jay

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I have been using hop bags for my first couple brews and I've been worried about a lack of IBUs too. Is there any reason why I shouldn't just forget using the hop bag and then when I am transferring my wort into the fermenter, strain it with a loose hop bag over the end of my transfer tube?

When I picture this idea it makes sense to me, but I'm sure I'm not the first to come up with the idea. Any pitfalls I'm missing?
 

rmolledo

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I used a hop bag for a brew a couple months ago and the bitterness and hop character wasn't what it should be according to my formulation. On the other hand I've tried a friends imperial IPA and he used hop bags. His beer was incredibly hoppy and wonderful. Perhaps we are getting into trouble by tying the bags too small and not allowing the hops to move about. Maybe if we used bigger bags for the hops... THats my next step.
 

aubrey

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I used a hop bag for a brew a couple months ago and the bitterness and hop character wasn't what it should be according to my formulation. On the other hand I've tried a friends imperial IPA and he used hop bags. His beer was incredibly hoppy and wonderful. Perhaps we are getting into trouble by tying the bags too small and not allowing the hops to move about. Maybe if we used bigger bags for the hops... THats my next step.
My bags are about 12" long and 5" wide or so. I put whatever amount in them and then tie it as close to the top as possible so plenty of room for them to move around. If I were to fill one more than half full of pellets, i would split it into two bags.
 

SwampassJ

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For the people noticing a drop in hop flavor/aroma.

Are you using the nylon or a muslin bag? I was going to use the muslin today but when I opened up my hop pellets almost 1/3rd of my willamette hops are powder.


Edit skipping the bags. After weighing the hops, I have 1.7oz of coarse hop powder and 2.8oz of pellets. On the upside I have half an ounce more hops than I paid for.
 

aubrey

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I use muslin bags. Ive never had my hops be that powdery so its not been an issue. I'd probably just toss the powder in loose and deal with it at the end of the boil. There's always some hop material that makes it through the bag anyways. Its not a perfect system but it makes a huge difference. I've also started sort of balling up a piece of cheese cloth or a muslin bag and wrapping it around the end of my auto-siphon to catch whatever break and hop material is left at the end of the boil. Works great.
 

Naked_Eskimo

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When dry hopping, people say hops left in the fermentor for a long period of time can cause a "grassy" flavor to emerge = bad.

However, if you drop hops+trub+wort into primary and let that sit for a 3-4wk ferment, will you also run the risk of that "grassy" taste from the hops dumped into the fermentor?
 

rmolledo

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i over dry hopped once with argentine cascade and the beer tasted like pure fresh cut grass/weed/earth. It wasn't pleasant. But this may have been my poor choice of hops
 

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I read and experienced Aregentine Casade can and will give the grassy flavor, not the citrus from the PNW. Home Depot sells 5 gallon paint strainer bags. There is a link for a hop bag, take the paint strainer (re-useable) along with thread stock and 4 or 5 inch PVC pipe about 6 inches long. My hops are fully used and less truck to the primary from the kettle.
 

SkiSoloII

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I'm about to jettison the paint-strainers as being too fine. I'm going to try a large muslin bag for the next brew.

The times I've gone without a hop bag, I haven't been happy with the draining of the wort, nor the cleanup.

Dave
 

tv187u

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Not a big fan to the bag. It has seemed to hamper a number of my beers. its like the wort doesn't get to the hops as well to create the flavors and colors.
 

northernlad

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If the vigor of the boil has an effect on the utilization, then you can count on containing your hops in a bag to have an effect on it as well.
My suggestion is to discard your hop bag for a chinois or other fine strainer to remove the hops, in whatever form, from the wort.
As for the dry hop, since I use carboys, I have found that using a bag only allows you to stir up a bunch of hop schwag when transfering to bottling bucket so I don't use bags there either. Time settles all floaties.
 

BrewMonster

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Just did my first re-do beer. First one used no hop bag and I used a 5gal paint strainer bag for the second. MAJOR difference in hop utilization. Painter strainer bag goes away!
I have been told since I started (a little over a year now) to never just pour the wort into the fermenter, that the wort being exposed to so much air would some how mess with the flavor...then again, maybe I should look further into the history of brewing. Maybe that was normal at one point.
 

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I don't really see the need for hop bags during the boil, I just throw everything in and then after the wort has cooled I pour it through a metal screened colander into the fermentation vessel of choice. Removes most hop material and aerates at the same time. Anything wrong with this method?
When I dry hop I just use a muslin bag and make sure to squeeze it out when I remove it.
 

ChessRockwell

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I have been told since I started (a little over a year now) to never just pour the wort into the fermenter, that the wort being exposed to so much air would some how mess with the flavor...then again, maybe I should look further into the history of brewing. Maybe that was normal at one point.
As long as your wort is cooled, you WANT to aerate it, the yeast need the oxygen to reproduce and all that good stuff they do. You wouldn't want to aerate it while it's hot, or anytime after fermentation, but when pouring into the fermenter to add yeast, it's definitely a good idea to aerate as best you can...
 

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ChessRockwell said:
You wouldn't want to aerate it while it's hot
I don't believe this is widely taken as a concern anymore. HSA seems to be going the way of autolysis, BB carboy concerns, and the mandatory secondary.
 

ChessRockwell

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I don't believe this is widely taken as a concern anymore. HSA seems to be going the way of autolysis, BB carboy concerns, and the mandatory secondary.

Good to know! I had aerated a couple by filtering while hot this way before I read a few threads advising against it... I certainly didn't notice any negative effects in either of those batches.
 

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Well, I tried using a small muslin hop bag for the first time today with a Dunkel HefeWeizen. When I looked at the way it was performing though, I got concerned. I just didn't see how it was going to provide enough hoppiness as a tea bag. It would seem like you would have to either extend the boil or expose the hops. I read this thread and one or two others and backed out of the hop bag halfway through. Luckily hops isn't a feature part of a Hefeweizen, so I doubt whatever I didn't get in the first 30 minutes will be missed, but I think I've made my decision about hop bags now. I like a clean wort as much as the next guy, but .....
 

richkev

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ChessRockwell said:
I don't really see the need for hop bags during the boil, I just throw everything in and then after the wort has cooled I pour it through a metal screened colander into the fermentation vessel of choice. Removes most hop material and aerates at the same time. Anything wrong with this method?
This is what I do, also. I think a lot of folks use cfc's or plate chillers and they need to keep out as much particulate, as possible. I just use an immersion chiller (a la Jamil) so no worries.
 
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