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Brewing with whole hops for the first time

I’m new to brewing and was given a large bag of fresh hops a few weeks ago that I dried out and stored, and then at weekend I brewed with them. It’s my first time with whole hops (third batch ever).

Everything seems to be going OK, OG was bang on 1.050 and is moving along nicely but I have a few questions for the more experienced amongst you:

  1. It seems cloudy. I was thinking therefore of doing a secondary and dry-hopping in there - do I transfer the hops that are in the primary too? Assuming not, but can’t find the answer to that anywhere.

  2. I read in a couple of places that they should sink to the bottom of the fermenter. They’re currently floating on top - is that normal?

  3. No sign of fermentation +72 hours in via the airlock, but the sample I pulled into the test jar shows that it definitely is fermenting. That primary fermenter I’m using had a bubbling airlock for the last two batches I made (with pellets) so it’s a minor point but I’m curious - would using whole hops change the fermentation behaviour in some way (or do I just have a leaky fermenter lid)?

Thanks in advance. The guys at the Northern Brewer place are always very helpful.

Most people strain their wort or siphon it so they don’t have hops in the primary. But if it’s only been 72 hours, I would expect the beer to be cloudy due to fermentation. Which leads to 2), yes they’ll eventually sink, but fermenting wort is in motion, so I would expect them to be floating. I would definitely leave them behind if you use a secondary. And 3), don’t trust the airlock to indicate fermentation, especially if you’re using a bucket. One of my bucket lids never has bubbles.

The biggest difference you’ll find is that whole hops absorb a lot of your beer.

I sparge extra wort to boil when I use whole hops.

I used hop cones for my first time and I was surprised at how messy it got for me. I strained out the hop cones before primary fermentation. When I strained out the cones, my strainer got clogged up 4 times before I was able to get everything in the carboy. My ale came out very clear and great color but the flavor just isn’t there.

Next time I will not use a strainer with a fine screen, maybe a colander…

[quote=“Kloster Brau”]I used hop cones for my first time and I was surprised at how messy it got for me. I strained out the hop cones before primary fermentation. When I strained out the cones, my strainer got clogged up 4 times before I was able to get everything in the carboy. My ale came out very clear and great color but the flavor just isn’t there.

Next time I will not use a strainer with a fine screen, maybe a colander…[/quote]

Are you sure this was due to the strainer and not the hops themselves?

Are you sure this was due to the strainer and not the hops themselves?[/quote]

The strainer seemed to strain out a lot more than just hop cones. The cones didn’t clog up the screen the sediment did (hop pellets and Malt??). The hops bitterness was defiantly there, I just think it robbed the flavor to some extent. Below is what was added for hops:

  • 1 oz Cascade (First Wort Hop)
  • 1 oz US Magnum (60 min)
  • 1 oz Nugget cones (5 min)
  • 1 oz Centennial (5 min)

I’ve used a strainer on my last 2 brews (both using just pellet hops) and had no issue with losing hop flavor.

I assume most of the oils will have been absorbed by the wort during the boil so you aren’t really losing anything by straining them off

to my understanding using whole cone vs pellet flavor should be the same assuming they are equally fresh. You just have to make sure the AA levels are the same and that can take more whole cone than pellets for bitterness.

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