Whole Hops vs. Pellet Hop amounts?

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ScubaSteve

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Hey All-

Been searching for this but I can't seem to get a good answer.

With all this talk about a 100% pellet hop bill clogging every type of screen devised....I want to start using more whole/leaf hops. I'm probably going to get a Chillzilla and don't want any drama with clogging, etc. I really want to go back to just throwing my hops right in the boil, because I suspect my hop bags are restraining my hop character.

Question: What's the conversion for leaf and whole hops if you've been using pellets? 2 oz. of pellet hops is a fair amount.....does 2 oz of whole hops provide the same amount of bitterness?

Also, how do you whole hop users account for water absorption. Add an extra liter of water? Last time I used whole hops I was pissed because they caused me to undershoot my target volume in a major way.
 

bradsul

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From everything I've read you want 10% less pellet hops than whole hops due to increased utilization. I've never used whole hops so I can't speak to the rest.
 

zoebisch01

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From everything I've read you want 10% less pellet hops than whole hops due to increased utilization. I've never used whole hops so I can't speak to the rest.
Yeah this is the rule of thumb I use.

As to the absorption, I am sure there might be some rough rule out there...but what I usually do is make 5.125 gallons my target to account for losses from absorption and racking. I am usually left with some.
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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Can using leaf hops and the subequent absorption lower your OG? I understand that it can lower your volume but if it is holding the wort in there wouldn't you be losing sugars?
 

Anthony_Lopez

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It shouldn't effect your OG. The wort will increase in gravity during the boil as a hole. The hops would have to be absorbing the sugars only and repelling the water to effect your OG.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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It shouldn't effect your OG. The wort will increase in gravity during the boil as a hole. The hops would have to be absorbing the sugars only and repelling the water to effect your OG.
Not quite...depending how you look at it. When the hops absorb wort they lower the final volume. Say you would have had 5 gallons @ 1.040 with no hops...but you used whole hops and they absorbed some of that 1.040 wort so your final volume is now say, 4.875 gal @ 1.040. So in order to get your volume back up to 5 gal you have to add water...which will lower the OG. So you have a choice...less volume at correct OG or less gravity at full volume. But they def cause a 'loss'.

My 'boil efficiency' is pretty consistent @ 98%...that is...I 'lose' 2% efficiency during the boil. This is due to water absorbed by the hops, trub in the kettle (that doesn't go into the fermenter), dragout (IC, spoon, splashing, sides of kettle, etc.), and hydro sample (doesn't go into the fermenter). I think when you add all these up...the volume lost due to boil evaporation is less than many people think.

I need to come up with an absorption factor but I haven't really done it yet. My ballpark guess though is that whole hops absorb around .125 qt/oz (that's 1/2 cup per ounce of hops). One of these days I'll weigh the wet hops to at least give me a better idea (I know there will be trub in there...gotta start somewhere though). Anybody got a better 'hop absorption factor'? I'm really just guesstimating here.
 

madewithchicken

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If you are doing an extract brew without a full boil then yes it can lower your original gravity if you are not careful. For example if you do a 2.5 gallon boil for a 5 gallon batch then every ounce of liquid the hops hold onto you need to reduce your final volume by 2 ounces. If you do not do that you will lower your gravity.

I use a paint strainer bag when I use whole hops. That way i can squeeze every ounce of wort out. But mostly i use pellets and only mildly strain them. They settle pretty well in the fermentor.
 

theonecynic

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I partial boil, with whole hops, and when I'm done cooling my wort, I pour it through my grain bag into the fermenter to collect the hops, and then top up by pouring cold water over the hops. This helps to wash out any absorbed wort, and allows me to squeeze the bag after (because the hops are now quite cool) I don't chill my wort all the way before topping up because the water being added is pretty cold. Don't know if squeezing the hops is a bad thing though, could someone please reassure me? (I also do it to my grains after steeping - is that a no-no?)
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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I partial boil, with whole hops, and when I'm done cooling my wort, I pour it through my grain bag into the fermenter to collect the hops, and then top up by pouring cold water over the hops. This helps to wash out any absorbed wort, and allows me to squeeze the bag after (because the hops are now quite cool) I don't chill my wort all the way before topping up because the water being added is pretty cold. Don't know if squeezing the hops is a bad thing though, could someone please reassure me? (I also do it to my grains after steeping - is that a no-no?)
My buddy did a partial boil with leaf hops and we strained the top off water through the hops to try and rinse them. We did not squeeze the hops because we didn't think of it at the time and I am not sure if there are any negative effects of that.

But the reason why i asked is because we were about 10 points off of the OG and I figured it as a combo of being a little shy on the extra plus the leaf hop absorption.
 

RedIrocZ-28

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I've always wondered this too...What difference does it make using pellet or leaf hops? You are adding 1oz of either. Simply because you are using hops that are ground up and formed into pellets doesn't mean that they weigh more than leaf hops. 1oz is 1oz. The only difference that even comes up on my radar screen is that hop pellets may have less water in them due to being pressed but I can't see that being a real possibility. Its more likely that you cannot perceive a 10% reduction in hop bitterness on lightly-to-moderately hopped beer with a smaller grain bill which would only equate to maybe a couple IBU.. :shrug:
 

SpanishCastleAle

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But the reason why i asked is because we were about 10 points off of the OG and I figured it as a combo of being a little shy on the extra plus the leaf hop absorption.
No way whole hops made that kind of impact on your OG. It only puts a very small dent in your efficiency. Do you measure your gravity in the kettle? Maybe try Kaiser's Efficiency Spreadsheet...a worthwhile exercise imo.
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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Yeah I didn't think that the hops would have taken 10 points off but I figured it did something. We were .2 lbs short on the LME also.

Off topic but is DME more efficient than LME? I have this idea that it is....

So maybe a combination of of the leaf hops absorption, LME instead of DME, and being a little short on the malt extract could have caused the low OG?
 

Myrdhyn

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To the above poster, I hope I'm interpreting your question properly (and not looking like a noob trying to give advice to a pro on a subject over his head), but 1lb of LME = approx 0.8lb of DME (and roughly 1.25lb of base malt if doing all grain from what I've read). If you are subbing 1:1 then that is where your error is coming from.

edit: typed it backwards, fixed.
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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Im totally not a pro. To be honest, lately I have found that I have been making really good beers for over a year or so but there is a lot I still don't know. I mean I always knew that LME is not as efficient as DME but would never have sworn by it or let alone be able to throw out a formula. :cross:

But I guess that does confirm my suspicions and theories.
 

beesy

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i use almost strictly whole hops simply because that is what i bought three pounds of. Beer smith will correct for pellet or whole hop. I use the reusable nylon mesh type hop bags. I use the lid of my pot to squeeze the "goodness" out of them when removing the bag at the end of boil. If i am doing a highly hopped beer, i will compensate by adding and additional .75 pint of wort. seems to work well for me. :fro:
 
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