So I am sort of new at this. I ordered some hop bags as an add on item but have not yet used them. In the past I always dropped my hop pellets right into the boiling wort. But I plan to make a really clean and light colored hoppy ale. I plan to use Citra in both the boil and dry hopped.
In the past (without using hop bags) I have noticed a substantial ring of hops in my fermentor just above the ready to bottle beer. I have not had a hard time siphoning the beer out and leaving the hops behind, but this is my first dry hopped beer and I anticipate those may be more detrimental to clarity.
So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using a hop bag? Does everyone use them? Will it help my clarity? Will Flavor be affected? Are they more suited for the boil or dryhopping?
Using hop bags is just for ease of use of hops. Using them in the boil pretty much depends on your system. With my system, the pickup tube will clog if I use whole hops without a bag. For that reason, I almost always use pellets in the kettle. When I use whole hops in the kettle, I increase the amount by 10% to account for the supposed loss of utilization when using bag. I always use a bag for dry hopping. Most of my dry hopping is done in the serving keg and a bag contains the hops so they don't plug the dip tube or end up in your glass. In this case, using a bag will not affect the clarity (except for the fact that it will let you avoid siphoning hops), aroma, or hop flavor. Also, sine there is no loss of utilization in this situation I don't increase the amount. Some people will weight the bag on the mistaken belief that it will keep the bag from floating. The bag will sink on its own once it gets cold. Even of you dry hop in the fermenter, weighting is unnecessary.