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I really enjoy bitter beers, and would really like to add hops to my next brew. However, I've only done one homebrew so far and it was using a pre-made kit (I used the Edme Bitter wort and malt extract). I don't think I'm ready (or, I should say, I wouldn't know how) to make my own wort and malt extract. Is it possible to add hops to my wort before I put it in my primary? When should I add them? And how much?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you want to add hop bitterness, you can get hold of some dry malt extract (DME) from your local homebrew store. Boil it up with some water, say a gallon, and add 1-2oz of your desired bittering hop and boil for 45 minutes. Add this to the fermenter along with your other pre-boiled wort and top-up water.

That will give you the extra hop bitterness you are looking for. There's a lot of detail here - and to try to predict the outcome, you need to know about hop bittering calculations, %AA, IBUs. If your kit already contains some bitterness, usually 30 IBUs is typical, then this will need to be taken into account.

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I like the technical stuff, thanks for pointing me in this direction. – n0pe Jun 2 '12 at 21:52
Since the OP asked about bittering, this appears to be the only way to do it. Not that dry hopping wouldn't make the kit better, but just not more bitter. – Dale Jun 3 '12 at 13:18

If the wort you use is pre boiled (which it sounds like it is), about your only option is to dry hop it. That will give you aroma and a bit of hop flavor, but won't increase the bitterness. Wait until fermentation is finished, then add about an oz. of hops to the fermenter. If you want to keep it British style, use something like Goldings. If you want to make it more American style, Cascade hops would be a good choice. You may want to use a bag to contain the hops and make them easier to remove from the fermenter. Sanitize the bag before adding hops. You can use your regular sanitizer, or put the bag in a bowl of water in the microwave to boil for a couple minutes.

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So dry hopping happens during secondary fermentation inside my glass carboy right? I can just pop some hops in there and keep them there for the length of the secondary fermentation? Or do I need to remove them beforehand? – n0pe Jun 2 '12 at 21:04
I leave the dry hops in the fermenter for 1-2 weeks. Some people have reported a "grassiness" from leaving them in that long, but I've dry hopped a couple hundred batches and never found that to be be true. Put the hops in your secondary and rack the beer on top of them. – Denny Conn Jun 3 '12 at 15:57

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