From the HBD Archive
From: Pete Soper <>
Subject: hop mania
Date: 1990-02-23 23:02:06 GMT

>From: Paul Perlmutter x2549 <>:

>Some books talk about "dry hopping". In particular, Line's book
>suggests dry hopping for numerous recipes. By "dry hopping" we
>mean putting fresh hops into cool wort - either in the primary
>fermenter or secondary fermenter. I find this curious, since
>fresh organic material is bound to introduce undesirable bacteria
>and / or yeasts! How do brewers get away with this? From Line's
>book, I do believe that brewers dry-hop regularly. What are the
>implications of this?

Most of the time the bacteria and wild yeast in dry hops cannot
gain a foothold and compete with the brewing yeast population of a
healthy fermentation. The bacteria are there, they are probably
generating taints, but at levels that are orders of magnitude below
sensory thresholds because their number stay so low, they can't
handle the acidic environment, etc. Added at the end of a fermentation,
there is nothing left to eat. (This is ignoring the possibility of
the dreaded *dextrin fermenters from hell*, which would hopefully
not live on hops)
I read that Fritz Maytag, owner (and head brewer?) of Anchor says
that there is nothing ordinarily found in hops that present a problem
as a result of the dry hopping they do. But I'm sure he would
never add raw hops prior to the start of active fermentation. I'm still
not totally comfortable with dry hopping. I use hot water infusions
with coffee filters at bottling/kegging time.

From: "Allen J. Hainer" <>:

> Why can't producers of hopped extracts indicate on their labels the
>level of bitterness? Something as simple as "12 AAUs Bittering Hops"
>would not give away the receipe. Something like "12 AAUs Bullion Hops"
>would be even better.

(details about Coopers beer kit omitted)

> Along with the 8 AAUs Cascade I added, this beer is almost undrinkable.
>I have never tasted anything so bitter (and believe me, I have had my
>fun with Bullion!).

> Does anyone know what can be done about this? I'm fed up with trial
>and error.

Start a campaign to bring pressure on suppliers. Track
down the addresses of the extract makers and send them letters,
petitions, or whatever. Ask the AHA to have extracts tested for
actual bitterness (i.e. International Bittering Units - mg of isoalpha
acid per liter. AAU is a hobby unit of measure and relates to potential,
not actual bitterness). Once there is a lot of pressure built up and the
suppliers are publishing bitterness levels and hop types used, then sock
it to them and make them publish amounts of corn syrup, barley syrup,
caramel and who knows what else they put in their kits.
Look at the changes that have taken place already. It wasn't too long
ago that labeling of hops with alpha acid percentage was unheard of.
Labeling of color information (e.g. lovibond or EBC numbers for grains)
is also pretty recent. These changes didn't happen by accident. They
happened because suppliers got the message that homebrewers wanted this
information and would buy from those who supplied it.
Join a homebrew club and taste beers made with different ingredients.
Ask your supplier how bitter a given kit is. Chances are he won't have
the foggiest notion, but you might get lucky and it would also help with
your campaign.

Getting back to your example, however, I would suggest that 8 AAUs of
bittering hops is a lot to add to an already hopped kit. Assuming that
you got decent utilization, say 23-30%, then those
8 AAUs would contribute 27 to 36 IBUs to a 5 gallon batch. Let's
pretend that the Coopers kit had 25-35 IBUs of bitterness (like
many commercial "real ales"). Added to your Cascades, this adds up to
52-71 IBUs and that could indeed be bitter as hell without a lot of
residual sweetness to balance it.
Note that I assume you are listing only the *bittering* hops. If some
of that Cascade was used for finishing then my numbers are junk and should
be ignored.

- --Pete Soper

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