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We just brewed an all grain batch yesterday. There was an ounce each of two types of whole leaf hops (from Freshhops) in the boil. After cooling the wort, we strained it through a fine mesh strainer into a bucket before racking into a carboy for fermentation. There were small black balls, about the size of coriander seeds, in the strainer.

My first knee-jerk thought was that something had fallen into the batch during the boil, but this is completely implausible, as the boil took place indoors in a clean environment and was attended most of the time. The only other thing I can think of was that these were seeds from the hop plant that made it through processing and packaging.

We almost always use whole hops and this method, and I have never seen anything like this before. (I'm not worried; just curious.) Has anyone encountered this before?

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Did you manage to get a picture of them? –  baka May 28 '12 at 12:44
    
Unfortunately, I did not get a picture. I thought about it right after everything went into the compost pile! –  Jordan May 30 '12 at 22:28

2 Answers 2

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I've found that some leaf hops (my last two packs of East Kent Goldings for instance) do contain seeds - absolutely loads of them. They are small and round and I didn't notice them until after the boil. I did a bit of research and found that it's quite common and shouldn't affect the beer, although I looked just now and found this from BYO magazine suggesting that hop seeds could give a harsh flavour. I've been ignoring it though.

Brewer’s hops are the fruit or cone of the female hop plant. There are male hop plants, but most hop yards keep the males out because their flowers pollinate the female cones and result in seeds. Brewers prefer seedless hops, because seeds tend to lend harsh flavors to beer. link to article

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Like BrotherLogic my EKG seeds were pale rather than black, but perhaps that depends on the hop variety or the type of beer. Mine was an English Pale Ale. –  Edmond Bramhall May 28 '12 at 15:56
    
Interesting. Black may have been an incorrect description on my part. They certainly were not pale; maybe a medium to dark brown. I'll be curious to see if any off flavors develop like in the article you mentioned. –  Jordan May 30 '12 at 22:31

I've sometimes had a load of seeds come through with hops but they're usually a pale colour rather than black. Maybe hop variety or were you making a dark beer? Either way I don't think they're a problem.

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