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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2010 * Archive through November 12, 2010 * Pellet to whole hops: concerns? < Previous Next >

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Nephalist
Intermediate Member
Username: Nephi

Post Number: 404
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 71.136.186.184
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 04:16 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I always bought a pound of 1 variety of hop pellets at my LHBS because there was a discount (I am frugal). I looked up freshops and thought about ordering some varieties since I heard they have good prices. I discovered they only sell whole hops. I use the no-chill method for my boiled wort. I seal up the pot with plastic wrap and let it cool for days.

I know some people use a nylon bag to contain hops, or whirlpool. Can you predict what kind of stew I'd have if I left 4 oz or more of hop cones free in 10 gallons of wort? Nightmare rack? I don't plan on whirlpooling, as I aerate with a wand right before racking. Normally I just transfer a little hop pellet residue that's near the end of the racking cane. No biggie. But I'm not sure how much hop flower clogging I'll get with a standard racking cane.
 

Bob G.
Advanced Member
Username: Brewerbob

Post Number: 640
Registered: 06-2002
Posted From: 192.77.86.2
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 04:25 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm assuming you don't have a ball valve on your boil kettle. Just insert the racking cane into a sanitized stainless or copper "chore boy" type scrubbie and it should hold back the hops from entering the cane. I'd do this without the "widget" that fits on the bottom of most racking canes.
 

Bob Wall
Senior Member
Username: Brewdudebob

Post Number: 3299
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 76.97.181.25
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 04:31 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

use muslin "hop-socks" Your LHBS should have them.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2617
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 01:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I was always a pellet guy because that's what North Country Malt sells in 1 lb bags.

(Yes, I know that many people claim that whole cones give better aroma. But my club raves about my IPAs in blind tastings, so I don't care.)

My procedures work well with pellets. I use an immersion chiller and then either primary right in the boil kettle or dump the entire contents -- hops, break, etc. -- into the primary bucket. All the junk settles out by the end of primary and I rack clear beer off of it.

(Yes, I know that this will "surely" create off-flavors and I should be obsessively whirlpooling before racking off my wort. But, again, no one at my club has ever actually found any of these off-flavors in blind tasting, so I think I'm safe.)

With my regular procedure, the sediment packs down pretty hard. I don't lose much beer to the hops, even with an IPA. And I can rack off beer clear enough to bottle right out of the primary.

When the hop shortage ended a couple years back, I went to Freshops right away and bought 8 lbs of US varieties, all whole cones.

Problem 1 was storage. I was used to buying 8 - 10 lbs of hops and fitting them in 1/3 of one shelf in the stand-up freezer. Now I had huge mylar pillows taking up half the freezer space and generating snippy comments from my wife.

Problem 2 was weigh-out. I was used to weighing my hops outside, where I did the rest of my brewing, into little plastic bags labeled "60", "15", etc. that I'd been re-using for years. But the slightest breeze seemed to send half my hops flying away and all the bags were too small.

Problem 3 was racking. I was used to racking clear beer off the trub. Now I had a layer of cones floating at the top and more on the bottom. Get the end of the cane in the wrong spot and it would immediately clog up. And the hops were full of yeast and trub. So, as I got to the end, the beer I was pulling up was very cloudy. No possibility of bottling right out of primary.

Problem 4 was bitterness. I was used to the better utilization you get with pellets. I had several under-bittered batches before I got my recipes adjusted. When I switched to using hop bags to solve Problem 3, I had to adjust again.

Problem 5 was the worst: loss. Whether I dumped the hops in the fermenter or used hop bags, the cones acted like a big sponge sucking up wort. The problem was even worse for IPAs when the dry hops sucked up even more. My yield tanked.

Yes, I could account for every one of those issues, changing my recipes and procedures to accommodate whole cones. I know that many people use them successfully. But I just find them to be a major PITA without any aroma benefit. I'm back to pellets now and will avoid whole cones at all costs.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2618
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 02:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh yeah, here's more reasons why I hate whole cones.

With pellets, when I wash out my primary, I can dump all the trub in the sink and it all washes right down the drain. With whole cones, if I didn't use hop bags, I just had a massive clogging mess in the bottom of the sink. I'd be pulling up handfuls of hops, squeezing them as dry as possible, and throwing them in the garbage.

And the whole cones started going brown and stale way sooner than pellets would have. They were stored in the freezer, in thick mylar bags with all the air squished out of them and sealed tight. But they just didn't last as long. I had to throw out 1/2 lb each of Amarillo and Centennial when they started smelling cheesy.

Sorry, but pellets rule in my house. Whole cones are just not worth the trouble.
 

dhacker
Senior Member
Username: Dhacker

Post Number: 2259
Registered: 11-2002
Posted From: 98.66.33.165
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 02:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'll use pellets exclusively except for dry hopping. Maybe my imagination, but fresh whole hops seem to impart a better aroma/ flavor in DHing than pellets. I've also learned to let go of some of my false economy frugality by NOT buying hops in bulk. I'll buy and use them as I need them . . not throwing out significant quantities when they stale. As far as dealing with the racking . . I only dry hop in my glass carboys. Using a SS racking cane (complete with end widget) with a knee high stretched over it with the orange (or maroon) racking carboy cap, there is zero clogging and zero debris transferred to the keg and zero difficulty establishing the siphon.




That's my way, and I'm stickin' to it!



(Message edited by dhacker on November 09, 2010)
 

ChriSto
Advanced Member
Username: Christo

Post Number: 728
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 216.176.226.154
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 03:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

FYI, Hops Direct sells both whole and pellets. A great deal if you buy in bulk - easy to do with a combined order with 3-4 other brewers. That way you don't have to keep full pounds around that go bad.

http://www.hopsdirect.com/hops/pellethops.html

I, too, am a pellet user for bittering additions. Flavor additions can go either way depending on what I'm making. I do like aroma additions with whole hops though. There is definitely a difference when using fresh whole hops over pellets in aroma and flavor. If it's a beer that necessitates hop aroma and flavor to truly meet the profile (APA/IPA, BoPils), then whole hops are the way to go. Not that the pellets won't do fine, just that whole will produce a bigger better kick.
 

Paul Hayslett
Senior Member
Username: Paulhayslett

Post Number: 2619
Registered: 02-2002
Posted From: 71.234.45.166
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 05:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Nephi, did you expect to start a rumble when you posted your question?
 

Marc Rehfuss
Member
Username: Marc_rehfuss

Post Number: 246
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 99.165.88.59
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 06:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I used whole hops exclusively since pellet hops clog the screen in my kettle. Plus, I can recover wort that would otherwise be lost by squeezing the spent hops after all is cooled. I wear sanitary gloves and go to town, squeezing as much wort out of them as I can. (No, I don't extract tannins.) That is probably the most miserly aspect of my process. I mean, there's maybe a few beers left there! With pellet hops you have this useless green spooge from which no wort can be recovered.
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12144
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.101.115
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 06:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marc, the problem is that 90 percent of the hop crop is processed into pellets, as this is what most commercial breweries use. There are a number of hop varieties not normally available in any other form except pellets.
 

Marc Rehfuss
Member
Username: Marc_rehfuss

Post Number: 247
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 99.165.88.59
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 07:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I understand that Bill, but my system is about as far from commercial in setup as is possible. As far as availability is concerned, for my general American, British, Belgian and German styles I can get all the whole hops I need from Freshops and Hopsdirect. The only real problem is that my wife doesn't seem to care for the fact that our freezer is filled with whole hops. Pellets are entirely superior as far as storage is concerned.
 

Nephalist
Intermediate Member
Username: Nephi

Post Number: 405
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 162.116.29.38
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 07:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul,
Your post illustrates my fears. Pellets it is, just for the sake of convenience (of not having to change anything).
 

Tony Legge
Advanced Member
Username: Boo_boo

Post Number: 511
Registered: 05-2005
Posted From: 174.118.73.14
Posted on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - 09:08 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul, you have experienced everything I have regarding whole hops. For those reasons, I too have switched over to pellet.
Just have to use up those pounds of whole I have taking up roon in my freezer.
 

Bob D
Member
Username: Fl_bob

Post Number: 116
Registered: 07-2007
Posted From: 69.246.174.241
Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 01:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I prefer pellets in the kettle, but I like to dry hop with plugs when they are available.
 

Dave Witt
Senior Member
Username: Davew

Post Number: 1483
Registered: 03-2003
Posted From: 24.7.226.155
Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 01:53 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My MO is to use whatever I have available, pellet or whole. I grow hops, so I use those (whole) in about 40% of the beers I brew. You have to prepare for whatever form hops you use. I have a Sure Screen (Hopper Stopper) that I use on the end of my racking cane to separate the pellet spooge when I rack after dry hopping. I think pellets are fresher, generally, than whole hops, especially European varieties. When I brew with my brewing partner at his house we need to use some whole hops as we use a Bazooka screen in the kettle.

When using whole hops, I have found that when draining the wort, whether with a racking cane or a kettle drain, if you slow down the flow during the last half gal or so, it will allow some of the wort drain out of the whole hops before the flow stops, thus cutting loss to hop absorbency.

(Message edited by davew on November 10, 2010)
 

Bill Pierce
Moderator
Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 12149
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.141.101.115
Posted on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 02:53 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There is a lot of good advice along with the opinions in this thread.

Like Dave, I tend to use whatever is available. Most of you know of my use of women's sheer knee-high hose for pellets (no more than 1.5 oz. per sock). For whole hops I agree with Bob Wall; the muslin steeping bags work well for those. And I follow Marc's advice about squeezing much of the wort out of the whole hop bags with sanitized rubber gloves.

I'm not normally a fan of super hoppy beers, but last summer I got an alpha acid jones and brewed a 10 gallon batch of Sister Star of the Sun. My hop source had both Goldings and Fuggles in whole form, which soaked up nearly a gallon of wort I was able to recover.

I'd forgotten about plugs until last week when I brewed an East European dark lager. I used Saaz plugs that seemed quite fresh and aromatic.