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My boil kettle is about 56x85cm, so relatively tall and narrow. I get a good rolling boil but no matter how much hops I throw in in the last 5 minutes I can never seem to get any aroma whatsoever. I'm using a very large fine-meshed filter bag to through the hops into. Could the poor hop utilisation be due to the kettle shape and size, or more likely the hop back (bittering is fine)? Or otherwise, any other ideas? Thanks.

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    Very similar to my question here. For the record, I cut back my late additions in pale ales, and started dry hopping. Great flavor and aroma, but also a pain in the ass. – Pepi May 13 '15 at 3:01
  • I got those bags on taobao too but stopped using them in favour of 1 large filter bag. I had to use a bag because hop residue was clogging my lines. I haven't had much luck with dry hopping either unfortunately... – Darryl Snow May 13 '15 at 3:16
  • Not taobao, but probably the same ones. Where are you buying your hops? Are there PMs on this thing? – Pepi May 13 '15 at 9:57
  • Don't think so, no. I get the hops from shuangmai, baarthas, and brought back in suitcases from the US. – Darryl Snow May 13 '15 at 11:16
  • @Pepi No PMs, but you can always take conversations like this to chat and tag the other person so they get a notification to come join you. – Preston Nov 4 '15 at 17:28
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What hops are you using? Some hops do not make good aroma hops at all, they are bittering only.

How old are they? The older a hop, the less aroma you'll get from them.

How do you store them? If they're stored without oxygen, in a freezer, they will be fresher when you use them. The less fresh hops are, the less aroma they produce.

How do you ferment? Non food grade plastic buckets could absorb the aroma. If you're using cleaning materials that have perfumes, or you're not rinsing correctly, you may lose aroma.

How long do you ferment? If you just use primary and it's short, the aroma may be over powered by other aromas (such as yeast or malt), or if you have an excessively long fermentation, the aroma will dissipate.

Do you dry hop? If you don't, you may want to, dry hops give the most aroma.

How do you age? The longer you age your beers, the less aroma that will be available from the hops when you serve/drink the beer.

How do you server? From bottles, you may have left them too long, or the bottles may not be sealed well and lose the aroma. From keg, check how you're cleaning it, is the keg leaking gas? That may lose aroma.

In short: There's no clear reason why without a lot more information, a full breakdown of your process and your recipe, you may just not be adding much at all!

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  • Thanks. I've tried with cascade, citra, mosaic, sirachi ace, and qingdao flower. They've all been 2014 crop, stored vacuum packed in the freezer until use. We ferment in stainless steel flat-bottom fermentors for 20 days; fermenters are cleaned with PBW and sanitised with starsan-like phosphoric acid. We've tried dry-hopping but haven't had much hop aroma from that either. We don't age the beers - kegging straight after fermentation. Kegs are also cleaned and sanitised with PBW and phosphoric; no gas leaks. – Darryl Snow May 13 '15 at 3:09
  • Do you get any aroma from the fermentor? Do you use pure phosphoric acid? My understanding is that starsan is 15.8% phosphor. Do you manage your water chemistry? – Doug Edey May 13 '15 at 3:14
  • Not much aroma from the fermentor after dry hopping, no. It's not pure phosphoric acid, it's a similar product to starsan, just a different brand. We filter the water and then add salts in different quantities depending on the style. I've tried upping sulphate slightly to get more crispness which seems to have worked but still no aroma. – Darryl Snow May 13 '15 at 3:18
  • The problem is probably happening when you chill. How do you chill? Have you checked all your valves and hoses? – Doug Edey May 13 '15 at 3:19
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    Then the only things I can think of is something mucky in the valves/chiller, or the water chemistry not being right. – Doug Edey May 13 '15 at 11:19
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How are you cooling the wort?

If you take too long to cool your wort after adding hops at the end of the boil, the high temperature of the wort may still allow isomerization, which would diminish the aroma.

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  • Using a long plate chiller which cools the wort instantly when it goes through... but it takes about 25 minutes to get 150 litres through so that could very well be it. I'm dry hopping now and it seems to do the job. – Darryl Snow Sep 2 '15 at 22:21
  • You could also try first wort hopping. I don't have any firsthand experience with it but it would also help you address your issue. beersmith.com/blog/2008/03/17/… – Eric H Sep 3 '15 at 13:14
  • FWH adds hop flavor, but not aroma. Yeah, I know the "conventional wisdom" says it adds aroma, but I've done it hundreds of times and can tell you that it doesn't. – Denny Conn Nov 1 '15 at 16:28
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The bottom lime is that you're nor going to get a lot of hop aroma out of a 5 minute addition, or even at flameout. I've pretty much stopped doing those additions becasue I found, as you did, that they don't do much. Try whirlpool hopping or dry hopping for the best hop aroma.

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If you take a couple of hops and rub them between your fingers what aromas do you get?

If you are getting punchy vibrant aromas then these should be in your beer, may be split your aroma additions 50/50 between a 15 min addition and your 5 min addition.

If you are getting very little at this point then get new hops for aroma additions, and check these in the same way.

You can add 100g of aromaless hops at 5 min and achieve very little where as 20g of pungent fresh citra should be adding a noticable citrus punch to a 5gal/23l batch.

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Why not just add the hops to the boil? You will get the most out of the hops that way.

I only use the mesh bags for dry "herbing". In other words, if I add any herbs/spices to the beer during fermentation but I need to remove them after a few days. For dry hopping: I just throw the hops in. :)

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    You will get the most out of them bittering wise, but not aroma – Wayne In Yak Jun 4 '15 at 13:28
  • @WayneInYak, I think you misunderstood my answer. I meant adding them to the boil without any bags. :) – Atron Seige Jun 6 '15 at 17:37
  • Depends on when you add them: Beginning of boil? Middle? End of boil? Flame out? – Wayne In Yak Jun 7 '15 at 15:17
  • Adding hops in an enclosed environment (bag) may affect the utilization. A tightly packed hop bag may not give the required result, no matter what addition it is. Adding lose hops, or using a large bag, will deliver the required results. – Atron Seige Jun 8 '15 at 8:55
  • "Adding lose hops, or using a large bag, will deliver the required results." Again, it all depends on when you add the hops that will help determine what effect they. Adding a bunch of whole hops at beginning of boil is a waste if looking for aroma. – Wayne In Yak Jun 8 '15 at 13:53

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