Hop Utlization/Vessel Problems

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Hop Utlization/Vessel Problems

Postby m_tt1987 » Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:59 am

So,

I just started homebrewing a few months ago...I'm about 5-6 batches deep now and am starting to taste the first few batches. I noticed on every batch i've done there has been an extreme lack of hop flavor and aroma. The recipes i've been following have been from Palmer's "How to Brew"...specifically the Victory and Chaos IPA. Using BTP, I slightly modified the IPA by adding more malt and more hops (EK Goldings, Nugget, Chinook)...the total IBU calculation came out around 80. However, the end result is a sweet/malty beer with little to no bitterness/hop aroma. I understand the sweet part.....2nd batch probably extracted more dextrins than desirable...but...my theory on the bitterness problem is my method of introducing the hops to the boil...

I've been using small cheesecloth bags containing the measured amounts of hops. Most of these bags were packed pretty tight so I think that perhaps hop utlization is suffering...water isn't getting to the majority of the hops due to the tight packing.

My last batch was a California Common clone and I decided to use a "hopsack" (paint straining nylon bag hung over the boil pot). While transferring to the fermenter post boil, I noticed the wort had a significant difference in hop character than previous batches.

I would like to get a boil-kettle outfitted with a hopback in the future...if that isn't the remedy i would be really surprised.

Anyone have any opinions/suggestions/agreements/disagreements?

Thanks
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Re: Hop Utlization/Vessel Problems

Postby billvelek » Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:57 pm

m_tt1987 wrote:snip ... I noticed on every batch i've done there has been an extreme lack of hop flavor and aroma. ... snip ... the total IBU calculation came out around 80. However, the end result is a sweet/malty beer with little to no bitterness/hop aroma. ... snip ... I think that perhaps hop utlization is suffering ... snip

I would like to get a boil-kettle outfitted with a hopback in the future...if that isn't the remedy i would be really surprised. ... snip

First, I just want to be sure that we're on the same page here since you are a bit new and you mention a "boil-kettle outfitted with a hopback", which I have never heard of; to me, a hopback is a sealed container filled with hops and through which hot wort is passed on the way from the kettle to a counterflow chiller. In using such a device, all of the volatile flavor and aroma components are completely preserved. But because bitterness comes from the extraction and isomerization of alpha acids which takes a long time in a vigorous boil, a hopback will NOT help at all with utilization. It occurs to me, since you mentioned that the kettle "comes with it" and since you also describe utilization problems with hops crammed into a hop bag, that what you might mean is a filter inside your kettle so that you won't need to use bags. I believe it is called a 'bazooka' or 'zapap' when mesh hose is used, but the same thing can be achieved with a false bottom or even a scrubbie. You can also whirlpool before draining, which will help you eliminate a lot of the hops without the need for any of the above.

I hope that helps a bit.

Cheers.

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hop utilization.

Postby jawbox » Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:05 pm

If you had your hops tightly packed in a grain bag, you are correct the utilization is going to be significantly less. The hops need to be in contact with the boiling wort to isomerize the acids. Is there a reason why you can't put the hops directly into you kettle?

I don't think you need a hop back at this stage, plus you will only be gaining aroma, slight flavor and no bitterness that you could detect.

If you are looking for more aroma try late hop additions or dry hopping.

I've seen a few people using a paint straining bag attached to a 3 or 4" PVC coupling held over the brew kettle.

Good luck on your next brew.
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Utilization

Postby slothrob » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:19 pm

Those paint strainer bags are a good way to contain the hops without substantially reducing utilization. When I bother contain my hops, I just loosely drape one over the side of the kettle and loop it around a handle. It doesn't seem to restrict utilization measurably.

Another piece of information you need to consider is the effect of volume and wort concentration on Utilization. If you are only boiling 2.5 gallons for a 5 gallon final batch volume, for example, you will never get over 55 IBU's because of the maximum IBUs of 110 in the half volume.

If you are using a utilization algorithm that doesn't take into account the possibility of dilution (and the higher gravity partial boil), you may be even lower. This is why the Rager algorithm is often recommended for partial boils and Tinsith id often preferred for full boils.
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Postby m_tt1987 » Sat Dec 27, 2008 5:54 pm

thanks for all your advice!

ok ok, my terminology still isn't solid but you seem to understand what I was getting at. The "zapap" method is what I'm actually looking for in a boil kettle (bulkhead/valve attached to a manifold/filter/hose...whatever, something to strain the hops from the boiled wort). Sorry for the confusion.

I'm going to try the whirlpool method tomorrow. I forgot to mention that everything is all-grain and I am doing full volume boils, so there is no dilution.

Thanks again
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You can also use a sieve

Postby billvelek » Sat Dec 27, 2008 7:22 pm

If you end up with a kettle which doesn't have a valve on it, like a regular turkey fryer pot, you can use a sieve as an alternative. I used to whirlpool and use an autosiphon, but was never satisfied with it when using whole hops; a stainless steel scrubby attached to the bottom helped, but I finally decided that it took so long to drain and the autosiphon is harder (long, multiple parts, tubing) to sanitize than a sieve, that I decided it wasn't worth the trouble. For the past couple of years I've been pouring my wort into a sanitized plastic bucket with a sanitized sieve resting across the top. Once the hops are removed, I then aerate by pouring back and forth between the bucket and another sanitized bucket (I could use the kettle, but it's harder to pour from). I set the bucket inside my bathtub and then, holding the two handles on the turkey fryer pot, I tip it against the side of the tub. Any splashing goes into the tub for easy cleanup. My method doesn't remove any break material, but the beer is still good.

Cheers.

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RE. Hop Utilization etc...

Postby wottaguy » Sun Dec 28, 2008 8:49 pm

Say m_tt1987,

Have you considered to use a hop stopper? Here's the link:

http://www.ihomebrewsolutions.com/index ... &Itemid=54

Also, My friend once had the same problems, he was adding a ton of hops, but not getting the expected bitterness or flavor or anything else. I asked him to try to add some gypsum to his mash water and that seemed to help him out with his next batch. You may want to look at your water composition or just try adding like 1/2 tsp to the mash water or boil for your next batch and see if there is any difference. Just an idea....

Hope this helps..

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water

Postby slothrob » Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:09 pm

Good point about the water. It can make a big difference for accentuating the hoppiness or maltiness of a beer.

If you don't know what your water is like, I think adding gypsum to the boil might be a good idea.
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utilization

Postby lupulin5446 » Fri Jan 09, 2009 1:25 pm

There are many factors that can affect your utilization rates. Higher gravity beers require more hops to achieve the same bitterness. Whole leaf hops have approximately 85% the potency of pellets. The problem could also be that your boil is not vigorous enough. For good utilization, you want a hard, rolling boil, and the hops should not be restrained in a bag. The greater the surface area of your heating surface (bottom of kettle), the more acids that will be converted. A rolling boil helps this by exposing more of the alpha acids to the greater heat on the kettle bottom. Boiling your hops in a bag will seriously decrease bitterness. Lastly, I suggest boiling the wort 10-15 minutes prior to adding the bittering hops. This will not only ensure a hard boil and reduce boil-overs, but precipitate proteins that can absorb the alpha acids and cause them to drop out of solution. All-grain beers tend to be a little lighter than extract batches due to oxidation of the malt extracts increasing melanoidans. The extra boil time should not hurt you.
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