Thursday, August 16, 2007

At What Point Do You Dry Hop?

Now the you have decided which hops to use, you must decide at what point in the beer brewing cycle do you want to do the dry hopping.

Most consider dry hopping in the secondary fermentation stage to be the best time to dry hop. The beer is pretty much finished fermenting when it enters the glass carboy secondary fermenter. As mentioned in days past the alcohol and the low pH of the beer will help fight off any bacterial development from infusing your beer with hops which have not been sanitized. The vigorous fermentation which occurs in the primary fermenter has subsided so the hops now infused will be able to add their aromatic qualities to the beer easily.

One problem with dry hopping in the secondary is the narrow neck of the carboy. My solution to this problem has been to sanitize a muslin hop bag and a piece of string. I place my hops in the muslin bag and tie a not in the top of the bag and also tie the piece of string to the bag just below the knot. I push the bag full of hops through the carboy neck and suspend the bag in the carboy. When I am ready to bottle I simply siphon my beer out of the carboy leaving the bag of hops behind. I then pull the string with the bloated bag of hops attached up to the top of the carboy, snip a hole in the bag and shake out the spent hops. I then pull the bag through the neck and rinse the hops out of the carboy.

Some brewers like to dry hop in the primary but the bubbling action taking place may actually remove some of the aroma from the beer. One thing to consider if dry hopping in the primary is that you add extra hops to compensate for the loss caused by the fermentation process.

The final option is to dry hop in the keg. This is done similar to using the muslin bag as described above but without the string. The downside of this method is that depending on the length of time your beer remains in the keg the beer may be subjected to extended contact with the hops which could alter the taste and aroma of your beer.

Tomorrow: Hop Quantity and Type

Wine Tidbit: Pinot Noir is possibly the most challenging wine for winemakers because of this varietal's extreme sensitivity to changes in the weather. In years of weather favorable to Pinot Noir it will develop into a truly great wine.

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