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I'm looking to start purchasing hops in bulk, and there are more options than I thought for getting leaf hops. I've heard (read in this forum) that leaf hops can be better for dry hopping, and also that they are not as good for dry hopping due to introducing more oxygen and soaking up beer.

Are there any other considerations or factors that are objective?

EDIT: I still very much appreciate the answers given, and any more that may speak to this issue, but This question about utilization addresses one of the most important concerns I had when asking this question.

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Are you asking for an answer for the pros v cons in general or specifically against dry hopping. –  brewchez Jan 29 '13 at 1:10
    
Definitely in general, dry hopping was the only thing I'd found so far comparing the two. What I wanted to make sure was that I wasn't overlooking something like utilization that would make comparing 1 lb pellets to 1 lb leaf more difficult than the obvious cost and size differences. –  Mlusby Jan 29 '13 at 13:38
    
In his designing recipes section of Radical Brewing, Randy Mosher says that pellets yield around 25% more IBUs than whole hops, as a rule of thumb. This is within the very broad range provided by Brew-Dudes, in the answer to the prior question that you linked. –  Chino Brews Jan 3 at 21:03

4 Answers 4

Currently I am using whole leaf hops exclusively for brewing, and I have used pellets before. For brewing purposes whole leaf hops are fine for all steps. During dry hopping you do get a fair bit of loss. I haven't noticed any issues with adding oxygen to the carboy. People use either and have great success. If you are worried about do a side by side test before buying. Pretty easy to split a mash in half and test whole leaf versus pellet. Would be a fun experiment too.

Seems the deciding factor would be space if you are buying in bulk. If you have space for the whole leaf then go that route. But if you don't get pellets. Pellets take up much less space in the freezer.

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One comment from a production point of view. Pellets are just a cleaner and more homogenized version of leafs. During production process we reduce dust, nuts, seeds and other impurities. On the other hand we standarize quality eg moisture and alfa-acids content, so dosing is really much easier and reliable. We are producing high-quality pellets from Polish varieties: Lubelski, Marynka, Sybilla, Iunga etc. Please check more details at: scfnatural.pl

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IME, leaf hops are more of a hassle when racking and do seem to soak up more beer, although not an excessive amount. I find the pellets easier to handle (store and measure) than leaf. If you're buying in bulk anyway, why not minimize the storage space you need? Then you can buy even more!

I haven't done any side-by-side comparisons, but I have no reason to suspect that there is any noticeable difference in the finished brew.

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+1 for your optimism, space is my only limiting factor on buying more hops! –  Mlusby Jan 29 '13 at 13:32

Another not-paid-attention-to potential issue with leaf hops relates to measuring them out and getting the correct IBUs. For instance, if you open a bag of leaf hops from your LHBS, pull out a handful and put them on the scale, there is a good chance a lot of the 'dust' that is at the bottom of the bag is actually resin/lupulin glands, where the bittering/flavor/aroma compounds actually are. The leaves can be separated from the volatile oils as well at packaging.

Aside from some occasional dry-hopping, I am all pellet, all the time. 1 ounce of pellets = 1 ounce of pellets. 1 ounce of hop leaves does not equal 1 ounce of hop resins/oils.

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