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Dry Hop and Secondary (and process review)

I’m on my third brew. First was an Irish Red Ale and second was a Winter Spiced Ale (both extract kits). To my surprise and delight - both have been delicious.

My third batch is in primary at the moment - it is the Chinook IPA extract kit. I have a question about dry hopping but first I thought I’d walk thru my process because there are many schools-of-thought and the process can affect the end results. Thus far, I have used the following process for both brews:

  1. Primary for 2-3 weeks at 65* - until hydrometers says fermentation is over (multiple identical hydrometer readings with a couple days in between).

  2. Rack to secondary and leave in secondary for 2 weeks at 65* - I know MANY people are saying a secondary is not necessary. I do it for 2 reasons: 1) I want to empty my primary so I can start another batch of beer, and 2) I want an ‘attractive’ clear final product.

  3. After 2 weeks at 65* I move the secondary container to my kegerator and cold crash at ~38* for 48 hours. No rack or transfer…I simply move the secondary container from one fridge at 65* to the other fridge at 38*.

  4. After 48 hours at 38* I rack the beer to a keg and purge the o2. I’ve never done any bottling…kegs are the way to go IMO!

  5. I put the keg directly back into the 38* kegerator and put the gas on it at 30 psi for 24-48 hours. After a day or two, I drop the pressure down to 12psi (serving pressure) and let it sit (tasting periodically) until it’s just right and ready to share with friends. My first Irish red sat for about a week before it tasted good enough and my winter spice ale tasted great after just one day sitting at serving pressure.

These results have yielded great tasting, crystal clear beer. I’m pretty meticulous when it coming to sanitizing so I’m willing to accept the potential risk of racking to a secondary.

FINALLY - THE QUESTIONS:

  1. I have 1oz of Hops to add - this is my first dry hop experience. The directions say add 1-2 weeks before bottling (or in my case…kegging). That seems like a big difference. Is it simply a matter of taste? Is the difference marginal or is there a noticeable difference between 1 and 2 weeks? If so, what’s the difference?

  2. Since I rack to a secondary…that is where I’ll add the hops. Do I need a mesh bag or can I just drop the hops right in my secondary? I want clear beer but since I’m cold crashing AND racking again into a keg…not sure the bag is needed.

This is where we diverge. I would dry hop in the keg with hops in a muslin bag to get better contact and just leave it there until the keg kicks. And skip the secondary.
However your reasons are sound for using a secondary so that is your decision to make…
I do dry hop in primary(and for a brief while early on in secondary back when I bottled) when I “double dry hop” or even triple dry hop in NEIPAs.

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Thanks for the response. I did not even consider dropping it in the keg and forgetting about it…interesting.

I use one of these stainless steel dry hop filters for dry hopping in the keg. They just hang from your keg lid (assuming your lid has a hole that the chain can go through). They work great!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078R8Q84D/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Also, when dry hopping in the keg, I prefer to let the keg sit with gas on it at room temperature for around a week before serving. Some say it helps get more out of the hops as opposed to dry hopping with the keg in the fridge at cooler temperatures. I agree with that thought.

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I dry hop with one of these ^ as well. I tie it to a keg post with some 8lb test fishing line for a couple weeks, haven’t had a gas leak yet.

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This is a really good read. There are a lot of differing opinion on this subject.

http://scottjanish.com/examination-of-studies-hopping-methods-and-concepts-for-achieving-maximum-hop-aroma-and-flavor/

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Obviously your process works and will continue to work just fine or you. However, being a lazy-ish brewer, I skip a few of those steps…

IMO the only reason to cold crash BEFORE packaging is if you’re going to bottle. Then you reduce sediment in the bottle. If you’re kegging I feel the 2 days cold crash is just a waste of time as is dry hopping in the secondary.
My MO is 3-4 weeks in the fermenter then straight to the keg. If they’re getting dry hops I use the dry hopper filter like @iahomebrew and it stays in the keg until it kicks. The keg sits at room temp for 3-5 days DH then goes in the cooler or serving fridge. I feel I get better aroma by DHing at room temp. YMMV. The beer will drop clear in the time it takes to carbonate it. The first half pint or so out may have some trub/hop matter but after that it will be clear.

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I second @dannyboy58’s process , except I use muslin bags to contain my hops in the keg. The most I leave kegs at room temp for dry hopping is 5 days, usually between 3-5 depending on schedule and how quick I want to get it into rotation. The two week recommendation standard on most NB recipes is helpful for general practice for new people to help them to stay patient and let the beer finish. I don’t know that it adds anything to the aroma from dry hopping to leave it that long before carbing. Also, for clarity purposes, I use 1/2 tab of whirfloc last 5 mins of the boil. I get very clear beer, unless of course I’m brewing a hazy.

:beers:
Rad

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"Also, for clarity purposes, I use 1/2 tab of whirfloc last 5 mins of the boil. I get very clear beer, unless of course I’m brewing a hazy. "

Same. whirlfloc or irish moss depending on what I have around.

Well, when you come to visit, you’ll be using a ceramic mug… If anyone hasn’t told you, it greatly improves the flavor too!!!
Sneezles61

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All great feedback and information.

Sounds like I have some streamlining I can do without sacrificing the end result. Thanks everyone.

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I got one of these stainless steel hop steepers from Austin Homebrew Supply while I was in town visiting. It was only a few bucks and seems big enough for the 1oz of hops I’m using.

Questions:
Do I need to suspend this in the middle of the keg or can just drop it in and let it sink to the bottom of the keg? I don’t believe I have the hook on the bottom of my lids so if I need to suspend it I’ll use the fishing line method that @Angrybear mentioned.

Most of you above seemed to indicate you put it in the keg (whether with a muslin bag or the ss basket) and leave it there. The guy at AHS who sold me this ball said if I leave it in the keg I’ll get some ‘grassy’ off flavors. Opinions?

I’ve just put a little bit in… It worked… Didn’t get “grassy”… I’ve put as much as it can hold and I found the middle untouched… Hence, a waste of hops… I would suggest, trying it with very little and with alot… Record you tasting notes… Each person has different tastes… But that gizmo is still part of some of my brews… not all.
Sneezles61

I try to get my hops to the bottom of the keg. And I remove my dry hops from the keg after a couple weeks. I’ve never had a “grassy” flavor from leaving hops too long but I figure why risk it?
Also, that hop steeper looks pretty small, listen to @sneezles61 and be careful not to overload it.

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I use a food safe clip and attach the hopsack with hops to the steel beverage dip tube about a quarter of the way down. That way the hops are not in contact with the beer for the bottom half to bottom third or so of the keg until it kicks. To be honest, I do this mainly to avoid having the hop sack get sucked into or blocking the beverage dip tube inlet.

I think the grassy flavor thing is pretty unlikely with a keg drank reasonably quickly. Another one of those urban brewing myths :thinking: ?

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I’m guessing the hops swell/expand after soaking in the beer cuz this looks plenty big to me to hold 1 oz of hops.

I sincerely appreciate all the feedback from those of you with more experience!

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It just occurred to me that I bought 2 of these balls. I’ll divide the hops and use both to be safe.

Thanks for the feedback.

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You guess correctly. That’s exactly what happens. And as someone posted above if they’re packed in too tight the outer layer can actually prevent the inner hops from getting contact or even wet. You want almost double the room your hops need for expansion.

@Angrybear I leave hops until the keg kicks. Sometimes for months. I’ve never had a “grassy” flavor due to that. I have had it from using old oxidized hops so since I buy hops by the pound after opening I store them in vacuum sealed bags at near freezing temperature.

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I’m attempting some free range style dry hopping and contemplating racking another beer on to this as a secondary after what is pictured is bottled.

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