People often ask how to add hops to homebrew. Here are some tips and some common questions.
When to add hops to beer?
You can add hops at various stages of the brewing process. Hops can be mash hopped, first wort hopped, dry hopped, boil hopped, and late hopped. Choose a technique that suits your chosen beer style. When hopping you can use fresh wet ops or usually pellet hops. Contain the hops with mash so that they don’t create a mess. Many brewers filter for clarity.
How do you use hop pellets in homebrew? Usually the pellets will dissolve during boil and settle down to the bottom of your kettle when you cool your wort. Then, when transferring to the fermenter you can just leave them behind (easier to do with a siphon). Use a hop bag – put the pellets on the bag, when you are done with the boil simply pull the bag out. Using a hop bag avoids the mess of having to strain hops from your wort.
How much hops should I add to my beer? Overall, if your dry hops plus your late hops together weigh 40–60g, you’re in the right zone. For an IPA, late hopping in the 30 – 60g per 20L range will give you the right amount of aroma, presuming you’ve dry hopped the beer.
Do you keep first hops, boil hops or late hops in for the ferment? You definitely don’t intentionally keep boiled hops in during fermentation, because they add nothing to that process. Hops added to the boil are usually left behind when draining the kettle to the fermentor, or at least if they are transferred, it is with the intent to rack off of them (and the other trub) soon.
Mash hopping is the addition of hops directly to the mash tun. Hops can be placed on top of the grain bed and left to sit as the mash is sparged. Some might say that mash hopping provides a better overall balance and character to the beer, though it adds almost no bitterness, but most people would consider it an ineffective use of hops.
Mash hopping is rarely done because it requires a fairly large amount of hops and adds little in terms of flavor. Since the hops are never boiled, no bitterness is released and most of the flavourful oils from the hop flower are lost in the boil that follows.
Brewers reckon that most of the benefits from mash hopping are due to the lowered pH (greater acidity) from mash hopping and not the hops itself. Given the high cost of hops, as well as many cheaper methods for reducing the pH of your wort, home-brewer’s rarely mash hop.
First Wort Hops
First wort hops are hops added to the boil pot at the very start of the lautering process. Unlike mash hops, first wort hops remain in the boiler during the boil and therefore do contribute bitterness to the wort.
First wort hopping is an old German method that’s made a come back. First wort beers are smoother, better blended and have less of a bitter edge and aftertaste. First hopping on lightly hopped styles reduces bitterness without upsetting the malt-bitterness balance of the beer.
Boil Hops – Bittering Hops
Do you add hops directly to wort? Bittering hops or boil hops are just that – hops added for the bulk of the boil to add bitterness to the beer. Boiling hops releases the alpha acids that provide bitterness in your beer. I will usually add my bittering hop addition at the beginning of the boil.
Boil hops aka bittering hops are added for the bulk of the boil to add bitterness to the beer. Boiling hops releases the alpha acids that provide bitterness in your beer. The longer you boil your hops, the more bitterness you will add.
Brewing calculators, such as BeerSmith (or BrewersFriend) can help estimate the bitterness for a given hop additions. In general, your bittering additions should be boiled for full length of your boil (about 60-90 minutes) to extract as much bitterness as possible. You can add your bittering hop addition at the beginning of the boil.
30 Minute additions are said to aid mouthfeel and flavor. The bitterness utilization is still fairly high, and the flavor is said to still be there.
Late Hop Additions
What is late hopping? Late hopping is the addition of hops during the latter part of the boil. It is an excellent method for creating hop aroma and flavor in your beer. In general, any additions with less than 30 minutes left in the boil and prior to cooling the wort are considered late hop additions.
Hops added in the last 5-15 minutes of the boil are called late hop additions. They’re usually not added for bittering, though they do contribute a small amount of bitterness to the beer. The main purpose for late hop additions is to add aroma and aromatic hop oils to your beer.
In addition to bittering compounds, hop cones from “aromatic” hop varieties contain volatile hop oils that provide the strong flowery aromatic flavor and scent desirable in many hoppy beer styles. Unfortunately most of these compounds boil off within 10-20 minutes of adding the hops.
Late hop additions should always use “aromatic” hop varieties, and should be done within the last 10 minutes of the boil to preserve as many aromatic oils as possible. In addition, late hop additions are most appropriate for beer styles where a hoppy flavor and aroma is needed. You would not add late hop additions to a malty or low hop beer style.
What does a 0 min boil time mean? It means putting an addition of hops at flameout, or when you turn off the kettle. Those late addition hops can add hop aroma and some nice flavor. I wouldn’t take your hops out when the boil is done for hoppy beers. Leaving those hops in while the wort cools can give you more of that aroma that some styles call for.
The Hop Back
A hop back is a device containing hops used inline between the boiler and chiller to infuse fragile hop oils and aroma directly into the hot wort before it is cooled and transferred to the fermenter. While a hop back does not add any significant bitterness to the beer, it can add great aroma to your finished beer. For more information see our article on the hop back.
Dry hopping is the addition of hops after the beer has fermented. Hops are typically added in the secondary fermenter or keg and left for a period of several days to several weeks. Dry hopping is used to add a hoppy aroma to the beer, as no bitterness is added with this method. Dry hopping is also used in many commercial beers for a hoppy burst of aroma.
The basic method is to add a few ounces of hops to the secondary before bottling. If kegging, use about half as much hops. Again you should use only aromatic hop varieties, and you should only use this method with hoppy beer styles where a strong hop aroma is desired.
Combining Hop Methods
Advanced brewers often use a combination of hop additions to achieve a burst of hop aroma and flavor, particularly for hoppy styles like India Pale Ale. In fact, many true hopheads will add substantial first wort and boil hops, followed by multiple late hop additions and a final dose of dry hops.
The “hop bursting” technique, involves adding a fraction of your bittering hops at the beginning of the boil, and the bulk of them at the very end of the boil. This method can give a great aroma and a smoother bittering.
Some try to keep things simple, so they typically add a single boil or first wort addition for bitterness, followed by a single late hop addition in the last 5-10 minutes of the boil to preserve aromatics and dry hopping if appropriate. In these hop starved times, you can also try to use higher alpha bittering hops for the main boil hops and save my precious aromatics for the late addition and for dry hopping.
On non-hoppy styles, brewers often choose to add a single bittering addition, often as first wort hops which give the smooth blending perception this method produces.