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Is there a limit on how many times you can re-use a hop bag?

I use the bag to make a hop tea to drop into the fermenter to flavor my beer. I clean the bag by boiling it in water for 5 minutes before each use.

I have used it 5 times so far but the color of the bag is starting to change to a darker color than it was originally so wondering if I should stop using it and use another?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The color is just from the oils of the hops, likely discolored further from extended use and boiling. You sanitizing it by boiling it will kill off most unwanted bacteria from settling in.

If you're worried that it'll get too grimy, weight it down into an Oxy-Clean or PBW solution for 24-48 hours, taking it out periodically to scrub it and rinse it before submerging it again. This will clean up a lot of the gunk on it and help keep it clean. Just boil it before you're ready to use it again and you're good.

I've re-used hop bags for months. They'll turn green, brown, anything other than black. Black is bad. If it goes black, and you can't get it out, don't use it. Mold is not something you want submerged in your beer.

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You can continue to reuse the bag plenty, a bit of coloration from the hops and beer is no a problem. Boiling will kill everything you're worried about, although you can also soak the bag in sanitizer.

The best method I have found for cleaning hop bags is the washing machine. Throw all your brewing towels, hop bags, grain sacks, etc. in the washing machine with a couple of scoops of your favorite cleaner (pbw, unscented oxyclean, etc) and run it all through a hot cycle. This also ensures that all the particulate gets cleaned out of the bags - they can be very hard to rinse effectively.

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You can also try bleaching the bag. That should return it to a white-ish color. Just wash it afterwards! I believe you can use the bag as long as it is structurally sound and the material has not started to break apart.

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