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Would it be effective to dry hop a beer that has been kegged and carbonated? More specifically, can I open the keg and drop in some dry hops for a week even after I have carbonated the beer?

If it's feasible, what temperature should I dry hop at?

I brewed and kegged a blonde ale which I was hoping would have a noticeable hop aroma. The results are only so-so. It could be that Calypso hops don't stand out as noticeably when used for aroma, or that the honey malt aroma is overpowering the hops. Or both.

The primary concern I see is that carbonation in the beer would just drive off any dry hop aroma I add to the keg, leaving it at best in the head space. I could try to de-gas the beer (I'll have to open the keg anyway) first, but I was hoping to serve this beer at an event in one week.

I've also considered a Randall, but I don't have any experience there and am concerned it would give more hop character than I'm aiming for.

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A Blonde Ale with a touch of Honey Malt and dry-hopped with Calypso sounds really nice. –  Graham Sep 20 '13 at 13:10
    
If you want to see what a Randall would give you, try a Randall Jr! –  Bad Neighbor Sep 20 '13 at 17:35
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

edit: I should make clear that this is obviously not ideal, but the question is if it can be done effectively.

Yes. The two main things to watch out for are too much pressure (so you don't get beer all over) and sanitation.

For pressure: Remove the C02 and bleed the gas down for a few days (if time permits) - also cool the keg as much as you can to reduce the possibility of a foam-up.

For sanitation: Hops, as you know, are a natural preservative so not too much to worry about here. Sanitize a nylon bag, add the hops and get it in there quick as you can when you've opened the keg up (and shut it again just as quickly!)

I've done it with very little mess and good results, so it's definitely possible, but dry hopping is obviously preferable :p Using a Randall can be quite overwhelming, but it's awfully cool! Another option is to make some hop tea/hop tincture and just add that to the beer.

There's a good thread about this here which I where I turned when I had this question.

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I often dry hop in the keg without issues. The carbonation should not be a problem since the CO2 is in equilibrium - it's balanced between the beer and the headspace so it's not entering or coming out of solution. It won't make a difference to the hop aroma.

Just be careful when putting the hops in the keg, since they may cause it to foam up - lower them in gently then put the lid on. You can also tie the hop bag to some thin string or unscented dental floss so that you can pull it out when no longer needed.

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In the keg is definitely NOT the best place to dry hop. You really want to take care of that in a secondary fermentation where you can skim the particles off before you serve. I suppose it can do in a pinch, but there are some things you need to watch out for:

  • Clogging your dip tube
  • Sanitation
  • Getting hops in your brew!

To combat these issues you could toss a tea ball in the keg with your hops in it. It would most likely sink to the bottom by the opening for the dip tube, providing the best flavor delivery. Just be sure to thoroughly clean the tea ball before hand.

Another method would be to get a product called a Hop Rocket, but that costs significantly more than a tea ball, and it requires the use of fresh hops, not pellets.

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you can put the whole hops in a hop bag and tie that to the keg handle using unscented dental floss so you can pull it out when the intensity has reached the desired level. –  mdma Sep 20 '13 at 13:57
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