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I am super new to brewing but extremely ambitious. I just have a dry hop question so I hope you see this. So I'm currently fermenting a double IPA with Columbus for bittering and Cascade for aroma. Well i'm a huge fan of citrus in my IPAs and I want to dry hop with 2 oz Citra and 2 oz Cascade to bring up my hop aroma. The question is, I am waiting until i rack to secondary, but I want to just drop the pellets into the carboy without a bag since its a narrow neck glass 5 gal. When would you recommend throwing the hops in since i wont be able to extract them. I am going to filter on my racking cane when i siphon into bottling bucket. Can I just toss them in, and rack on top of them from the primary? Should I wait until the last week in the secondary? Should I rack into secondary, pitch the hops in and seal it up for the entire 14 days? Hope someone can help!

  • not sure. I'm new too but if you haven't already brewed you should stick some of that citra in the boil for the last 30 or so mins. you'll get a lip-smacking taste of grapefruit - it's wicked! – Phizzy Jul 2 '15 at 14:52
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It isn't clear from your post what your fermentation schedule is, but it seems like you plan to allow primary fermentation to finish and then rack to a secondary vessel for two weeks. If that's your schedule, then your questions are (1) how long should you dry hop and (2) how should you add the hops to the vessel?

The answer to the first question is, "It depends." Usually one week of dry hop contact time is plenty. Some people go as short as a few days. Some commercial beers are known to be dry hopped for several weeks with multiple hop additions along the way. I suggest you start with one week for this batch and adjust for future batches as you see fit.

As to how to add the hops to the beer, I'm not sure it matters much. I prefer to add the hops on top of the beer because they tend to float on the top at first and then fall through the beer as they saturate. I feel like that makes for better contact, but I don't know that to be true.

Cold crashing is a very effective way of getting pellet hops to settle to the bottom when it comes time to rack off the dry hops. If you have a way to cold crash, I highly recommend it.

One final point I'd like to make is that, despite the advice pretty much every newcomer receives, you don't need to rack your beer to a secondary vessel at all. You'll be packaging this beer in three weeks or less. There's no need to risk contamination and oxidation by racking; the beer can sit in primary for the full three weeks without issue. You can dry hop in primary, too, by just dropping the hops on top of the beer.

  • thank you for this detailed response! Everyone seems to rack to a secondary and recommend it. Now im second guessing this because i really dont want oxidation but i want to clear up the beer a bit and get it off the yeast cake. I think im going to dry hop a week before bottling to capture a really fresh hop aroma, and see how that does and edit as i see fit in the future. Do you ever secondary? Do the benefits outweigh the risk or vise versa. Sorry so many questions – Patrick Tyler Jul 2 '15 at 17:12
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    If you intend to bulk age a beer for over a month or so you'll probably want to rack to a secondary. In those cases, I let the beer sit in primary for about a month, then rack to a keg, purge, pressurize, and age it in the keg. Most beers don't need that long, though. I usually go straight from primary to serving keg in three weeks or less. Here is a good read about dry hopping in a secondary vs. primary: brulosophy.com/2014/08/12/… – bughunter Jul 2 '15 at 18:19
  • you're really clarifying stuff for me man i appreciate it a lot. I only plan on conditioning for 3 weeks in a bottle before breaking into it and i was going to have a total fermentation time of 10 primary/14 secondary so 24 days fermentation and 21 days in the bottle. In that case, should I just dry hop in primary like a week before bottling and just seal it up til the bottling day? Also I used dry ale yeast, not a fresh one i grew or anything. Does this affect the "no need to secondary" rule, or are most dry yeasts pretty fresh and healthy? – Patrick Tyler Jul 2 '15 at 18:50
  • Yes, you can just add the hops to the primary 7 days before you plan to bottle. Whatever yeast you used (dry, liquid, starter or no starter), you're almost certainly fine to leave it in primary for 24 days or even longer. – bughunter Jul 2 '15 at 18:59
  • Just so weird that all of these forums and brew sites STILL say to rack to secondary to clarify and avoid off flavors. Now my head is spinning lol. Your explanation seems to make the most sense i just dont know why its not common to see that explanation.Even John Palmer says secondary is an outdated practice used when ingredient quality wasn't what it is today. Well I have like 5 days to decide if I'm gonna rack it or leave it to stay on my schedule. I'm leaning towards what you said. – Patrick Tyler Jul 2 '15 at 19:33
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When would you recommend throwing the hops in since i wont be able to extract them?

For 1 or 2 weeks before you bottle.

I am going to filter on my racking cane when i siphon into bottling bucket. Can I just toss them in, and rack on top of them from the primary?

You can if you want to.

Should I wait until the last week in the secondary? Should I rack into secondary, pitch the hops in and seal it up for the entire 14 days? Hope someone can help!

Totally depends on how you feel, as you fancy trying new things and ambitious brews, you could add half on day 1 then half 7 days later and stagger the additions.

Or for extra experimentation if you have a 5 gallon batch you could split it into a number of batches an vary the dry hopping in each batch.

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The aim of dry-hopping is to get as much of the essential oils of the hop into your beer without extracting bitterness and without driving the volatile compounds off through heat, ie during the boil. So its simply a matter of adding hops to the beer when its cool enough.

I think your question is mainly concerned with the practicalities of cleanly siphoning off when you might have hops floating around. You could use a 'hopback', which is based on the idea that you pass the beer through a sealed vessel which contains the hops and also filters it at the same time, in order to force the liquid into contact with the hops as much as possible:

What is a hopback?

You could also try adding the hops inside some sort of sanitized perforated bag that you can then lift out when it comes to bottling, but I'm not sure that will be as efficient (potentially less contact with hop surface area).

If you use a pressure barrel rather than bottling, some people throw a handful of hops in the barrel after transferring the beer into it.

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