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I am in the middle of my brew for my first home brew, a Double IPA from Brewer's Best. I added the first package of Columbus hops at the start of the boil as instructed, and its as if they haven't fully dissolved. There is a layer of "film" on the top that is clearly the remains of the hops.

Is this normal?

It also instructs me to add more Columbus hops with 15 minutes left, about to do that, and then it says to boil the final 15 minutes and then add Cascade hops at the end of the boil. Are these cascade hops going to make their way into the primary fermenter??

Thanks, Chris

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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The hop pellets are not supposed to dissolve into your wort. Rather, the boiling isomerizes the alpha acids in the hops (and the isomerized alpha acids will dissolve into the wort), giving the wort its intended bitterness. However, it is totally normal to get an "oil slick", film or foam of hops on top of the boiling wort.

Hops have three purposes: bittering, flavoring, and giving aroma. As a broad generalization, hops added at the start of the boil and up to 30 minutes before ending the boil primarily add bitterness, hops added at 15-30 minutes are primarily intended to add flavor, and hops added in the last 10 minutes of the boil and later add aroma. Of course, the actual bittering, flavoring, and aroma effects of hops depend on many things, including the specific gravity of your wort, the actual "load" and composition of alpha acids in your specific hops, and time/intensity of boiling and cooling.

In your recipe, your first Columbus hop addition is mainly for bittering, the second Columbus hop addition is mainly for flavor, and the last Cascade hop addition is mostly for aroma.

In terms of where the hops end up, most brewers try to leave behind as much of the hop sludge and hop pellets as possible when they move the wort to the primary fermenter. It is a judgment call as to how much wort you are willing to leave behind in the boil kettle. I don't think it will hurt your beer if a little trub (sludge) gets into the fermenter -- it tends to settle out fairly quickly anyway.

Good luck with your first brew!

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Great, so sounds like what I was seeing was perfectly normal. When I transferred to the primary fermenter I used a siphon so I left all of the hop "sludge" behind. –  Nibroc A Rehpotsirhc Dec 16 '13 at 2:29
    
One other question if you don't mind. My OG was supposed to be between 1.078 and 1.081, when I measured my OG it came out to 1.07. Would you think this deviation from the recipe would lead to a bad batch? –  Nibroc A Rehpotsirhc Dec 16 '13 at 2:31
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@NibrocARehpotsirhc I doubt your deviation in the OG will make a difference that you will be able to identify. Not a bad miss for the first time. You don't mention whether this is an extract or all-grain recipe, or how you measured OG. The discrepancy could be due to measurement error (did you correct for temperature?), deviation from the into-fermenter volume called for in your recipe, or mis-calibration of your hydrometer or refractrometer, among other reasons. I have been off by as much as 0.01 without any noticeable effect on my beer (at least that I can tell). –  Chino Brews Dec 16 '13 at 6:40
    
I read about the need to correct for temperature, but what I was unsure of was if the temperature of concern was the beer itself, or the surrounding air? (Sorry if that's a really dumb question). I didn't correct for either, but I guess it would be good to know in the future. I can see CO2 bubbling up from my primary fermenter in the airlock, so I am happy. I plan to transfer to my secondary fermenter after a week. Seem reasonable? –  Nibroc A Rehpotsirhc Dec 17 '13 at 16:49
    
@NibrocARehpotsirhc you need to correct for the temperature of your sample (the wort or beer). Hydrometers are calibrated to read true at a certain temperature. If the sample temp is higher, the reading will be too low, and vice versa. –  andy holaday Dec 20 '13 at 4:15

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