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Am hoping to get some fresh hops this year and was thinking about the best way to put them into my wort. Was trying to come up with a way to add them to secondary for dry hopping without causing a potential infection. What I came up with was to drop them in boiling water for 5 minutes to sterilize their outsides and then quickly cool down that water. Then let them steep in RT water for a while (a day or so). Then add this sterilized tea and hops to the secondary fermenter.

Has anyone ever tried this? Or is there a more obvious method I am missing?

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I'm unable to speak from experience since I've never thrown fresh whole cones in for a dry hop, but what was the OG of your beer? High gravity ales are quite capable of fighting off bugs, plus the hops have antiseptic qualities which help. While I've never tried, I've seen people take whole cones fresh off the bine and just toss them in, but I could definitely understand if you wanted to at least rinse them off first. Maybe a 30 second soak in a star san solution? –  Scott Aug 12 '13 at 18:54
    
The reason I was worried was a friend who grows hops at home said he had an infection from dry hopping with fresh hops (don't remember the style). I regularly dry hop with kilned hops, but I though maybe most of the bugs would have been killed by the kilning process. But fresh hops could have lots of bugs on the outside of the hops despite their antiseptic properties. –  Chris Plaisier Aug 13 '13 at 17:32
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While I'm certain it isn't impossible, everything I've read shows the likelihood of that happening is so low that it shouldn't be a concern. Perhaps your friend got his infection from elsewhere? Maybe it was from the hops, I'd say you are rather safe in that regard. If you're still cautious though, a quick dunk in a bucket of Star San and you'd be good. –  Scott Aug 13 '13 at 17:36

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, you are missing a more obvious method..just throw them in the secondary! You don't need to do anything at all to sanitize them and doing something could have negative effects on the quality of the hops. I have dry hopped many, many batches of beer with my home grown hops and infection has never happened due to it. As another example, Rogue has its own hop farm and they do nothing to sanitize the hops when they use them for dry hopping. Not only do hops have natural antiseptic properties, but the time you dry hop the beer has an alcohol content and a low pH that makes it very resistant to infection. Let the experience of many other home and commercial brewers be your guide!

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Indeed. If dry hopping lead to any kind of noticeable increase in infections, then it would never have become such a 'standard' practice when brewing hoppy beers. –  Graham Aug 15 '13 at 20:22

If your beer has already fermented down to FG, then the chance of infection is much lower than it is in the first couple of days. I'd recommend simply dunking the hops in some regular sanitizing solution then adding them directly to your fermenter.

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