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I've had good results, have always done it the same way in recent years, but always question myself when I dry hop.

  • Weigh-out my pellet hops
  • Scrub my hands with soap an water
  • Drop a weight, a muslin bag and a length of dental floss into my pitcher of StarSan
  • Put my hands into the pitcher for a minute, then pick up the bag
  • Squeeze (hard) on the muslin bag to rid it of most of the StarSan
  • Open the damp bag, drop in the weight and hops
  • Tie the top of the bag closed with the dental floss
  • Pull the plug out of the carboy, drop the bag in (leaving the tail of the dental floss out, so I can retrieve the bag later)
  • Put the plug back in the carboy

Of course I do this when most of the sugars are gone already, the alchol level is up, and there's a lot of dissoved CO2. And I don't want to get into bag vs no bag discussion, but otherwise, from a sanitization perspective, are there other, possibly better, techniques? Do some folks not even soak the bag in sanitizer and get away with it?

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Dry hopping with whole hops works well too. Recently did a batch that way without a bag and it was great. Didn't sterilize anything, just dropped them in secondary. Very easy cleanup as well. –  Chris Plaisier Mar 21 '12 at 23:19
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I've dry hopped no bag with whole and pellet, and racking was a pain for me, so I'm done with that. I would like to keep the question focused on with bag sanitation. –  Dale Mar 22 '12 at 23:54
    
UPDATE: I have updated my process to use the boiling technique. I've got a little electric teapot where I put the bag, weights, and floss. I also have added rubber gloves to the process. I pour off the water after boiling and after a few minutes I can handle things with gloves, even though still hot. –  Dale Jun 21 '13 at 12:57

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I usually just boil the hop bag and string for a couple of minutes. I've not used dental floss - I'm not sure that fresh minty taste is needed in the beer.

I use starsan for pretty much all my sanitation duties, but my reservations about using starsan here are that it may not penetrate deep into the material of the hop bag, but really this is probably unfounded. Also, like you say, the beer is fermented, so is quite inhospitable to acetobacter and other common contaminating microbes, but of course, not wild yeast, so some form of sanitation is necessary.

I think your method is fine. It obviously works, so unless you're looking for something quicker or easier, then there's no reason to change it.

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+1 I've always boiled my bags and had no problems. I also typically use nude stockings for dry hopping. I just cut off what I need, boil and tie a knot. The stockings are thinner and are usually not woven as tight as a muslin bag. This makes them much easier to remove from my carboy once that ounce of hop pellets becomes a mushy mess. –  roto Mar 20 '12 at 19:06
    
Boiling is likely to be a better at killing the bad things that may have grown in the bag than starsan. Heat gets where disinfectants can't get. –  Chris Plaisier Mar 23 '12 at 21:44

I've done it for years without sanitizing any of the bags and have yet to have a problem. If I were to go the route you are taking I would have stopped using the bags a long time ago.

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The easiest way is to take the bag out of the equation. You will get more surface area when the hops are not confined to a bag. I know that cleaning a carboy from hop sludge can be a pain.

I did dry hopping for a couple of years in bags and have recently started to throw the hops in the carboy. I feel that I get a much better dry hop character in a shorter amount of time.

Just some food for thought.

Cheers!

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This question is not about bag or no bag. I'm going to keep my secondary clean of gunk. If I want to get more hop character, that's just a recipe issue (add more). –  Dale Mar 20 '12 at 21:08

Thats how I do it and I've never had a problem. In my own paranoia about the bag, I have moved to soaking a small nylon type bag and the fibers are non porous like muslin. I soak it overnight in a small dish of starsan and I am good to go in the morning.

Dental floss is a great trick too, just use the non-flavored/scented kind. I tend to dry hop in the keg so I tie the bag off to the longer dip tube.

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Are you concerned that your StarSan solution loses it's sanitizing power overnight? I know some folks keep mixed Starsan around for a while, but I thought it was always done under a C02 blanket, or in a keg. I know with Iodaphor, contact with oxygen causes the solution to lose it's power pretty quickly. –  Graham Mar 20 '12 at 16:07
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my understanding is that StarSan keeps its pH for 2-3 weeks (correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the active ingredient is phosphoric acid, which kills all on a surface). I keep a spray bottle around for 'spot' sanitizing for a few weeks on brew-related projects (yeast starters, etc.) –  Pietro Mar 21 '12 at 14:04

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