1

I got a recipe for IPA which says to insert Amarillo hops 5-6 days before bottling.

The question is how the hops need to be inserted - can I just drop them into the container and stir, or should I boil them beforehand?

My worries are:

  1. That the hops are not sterile and may contaminate the container with bacteria.

  2. That they won't pass the flavor if they will just sink to the bottom of the container.

7

What they're referring to is a process called "dry hopping", which is used to promote hop aroma and flavor in the beer. It's very common and has been in use for hundreds of years. You don't need to worry about contamination from the hops for several reasons...first, hops were originally used for their antibacterial properties. Second, after fermentation the beer has alcohol and a low pH, both of which protect it from contamination. Actually, you want the hops to sink. They'll impart flavor and aroma even of they don't, but it will be more pronounced if they sink.

1

What I can tell from personal observation:

  • when you add pellet hops they will float, but they will absorb wort and sink after some time. In the meantime they will give off their aromas.
  • Hops will either float or sink. When you rack into your bottling bucket, you will not rack sunk hops into it, floating hops will be minimal, and there really are no hops which float in between.
  • Hops are mostly sterile by themselves, but pellet hops are safer
  • Leaf hops will absorb more wort than pellets

Some more practical information, which is also very contradictory sometimes: Dry hopping with leaf hops

And here is another one to calm your concerns about contamination: Dry hopping

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