Dry hopping my blonde

Good day all. I’ve got a bag of whole leaf centennial hops (1oz) in my fridge and I’m toying with the idea of tossing them into the Irish Blonde (from extract, 5 gal batch) that’s already looking good after just one week in the secondary. The thing is, the recipe doesn’t call for it. But I love a hoppy ale and it’s my understanding that dry hopping is more for aroma than taste. Is this basically true? And do I run the risk of ruining the Blonde if I do this? Also, if it’s a go, when should I toss them in. She’s got two more weeks in the secondary before I rack her into the bottles. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Centennial hops are very tasty. I can see why you might want to add them, and there’s nothing wrong with doing what you think you’ll like!! Go for it.

That being said… Personally I don’t really like to use whole hops for dry hopping. Pellets are much easier because you can more safely just toss them in. With whole hops, they will soak up a larger quantity of your beer, and you would want to place them in a sanitized bag and then weigh it down with a bunch of glass marbles or ball bearings so that it sinks, otherwise it will float on top and might fester with more potential for infection.

Based on many articles I have read, it’s pretty standard these days to dry hop for approximately 4 days before you’re ready to bottle. And an extra day or two probably wouldn’t hurt either, especially with whole hops where the lupulin is not all ground up like it is with pellets.

Why are you keeping the beer in secondary for 3 weeks? You’ll know when the fermentation is complete when the airlock quits bubbling, the yeast all settles to the bottom and the beer begins to clear. Has that happened? If so then there is no need to wait for 3 weeks. Add your dry hops today if you want, and get ready to bottle a few days later.

Yep, the dry hopping is more for aroma than anything else.

As far as when to add them, there’s a ton of info on the internet. I did mine in the primary when fermentation is complete. You can also use a secondary to add dry hops, then bottle. You can also just toss them right in the primary then toss some in a bag in a keg.

It’s really your call. I think most people will say to leave them in for no more than a week, although many people (myself included) have added them in a keg and kept them there until the keg is empty which is usually a lot longer than a week. I’m not totally sure on the “why” for that one, so maybe some more experienced people can answer that. All I can tell you is that when I grab a pint off the keg, it’s wonderfully hoppy :smiley:

I’m also curious about why there would be a risk of infection in “festering” whole hops? I’ve read a lot of people just toss whole leaf hops into their beer with no ill effect. I’ll be dry hopping the Denny’s Rye IPA I have fermenting with whole leaf Columbus, so that’s why I’m asking.

I do agree that whole hops soak up more beer though, so if you didn’t plan ahead and brew a little more to account for that, then that could be a concern.

I have experienced contamination by throwing whole hops on top of the fermented beer. Some say it would help to add while fermentation is still going, while the yeast is still able to out-compete any unintentional refermentation due to the wild beasts present in the unsanitized hops.

I have also experienced contamination of perfectly good batches by adding oak chips.

So I guess you could say, I have a problem adding any kind of unsanitized items to my finished beer. From now on I plan to try a vodka soak to kill wild beasts before adding any such thing. Either that or heat pasteurization.

Be careful out there.

Thank you both for your input. I’m new at this and I just wanted to hear from the pros before I went ahead. I’ll toss the hops in for the last week of the secondary before I bottle. Yeah, it appears all the fermentation is done with the Blonde in the secondary so I’ll probably add the hops soon. I thought that it was best to leave the ale longer in the secondary, (not just a week), so that it would clear up and “mellow out a bit.” Do you think this is not needed? It’s not bubbling anymore. I have a IPA in the primary that’s still fermenting a bit so I’ll leave that be for several more days before transfering to the secondary. Perhaps I should buy another carboy. Question, how many carboys do you gentlemen have? Anyhow, thanks again. P:S I hope all my batches come out great but if they don’t then I’ll just keep on trying but I’m going to drink them all anyway!!!

I’m a very blunt kind of person, so please excuse me. The blunt answer: Waiting longer is a waste of time. If the beer is done fermenting, waiting longer is not going to change its character significantly. One potential exception to this might be for lagers where you want them to be clean as a whistle, but even then, some people are undecided as to whether the super long lagering period is necessary. Another exception would be for very strong ales with alcohol more than about 7 or 7.5%, that can actually continue to ferment very very slowly for a period of a month or two, and take longer for the yeast to clean up after itself. But for a regular-strength beer? There’s not really any mellowing going on if you wait.

I have 3 carboys. Three seems about right – you could have 2 batches fermenting at a time, and a spare to rack to.

Best of luck to you.

You can do whatever you want with your blonde. But depending on her expectations, she may be hoping for a bit more… Oh, wait, I misread the title.