Friday, February 3, 2012

Hop-Stand, Keg Hopping, Belgian IPA

I'm not up-to-date on the latest and greatest hopping techniques. While the rest of beer world raves about the newest and greatest way to extract the most hop aroma/flavor in their beer, no doubt requiring some newfangled setup from California, I'm content doing it the old fashioned way. You know; through dry-hopping, large flameout additions, and the occasional sacrifice for the beer gods. However, not long ago I came across a discussion on the merits of the "hop-stand," a process where you let your flameout hops steep in the hot, non-boiling wort for a set period of time (often 2hrs) before chilling. This is supposed to give "killer" hop aroma and flavor. Anyways, I tried this method on my recent batch of Belgian IPA and following some sage advice, I kegged the beer and waited to dry hop as to see how much hop aroma and flavor this method really gave me. Let's just say I won't be bothering with this method any time soon. Not only did I notice the hop aroma and flavor was really lacking, my friend Brian even snidely reminded me to actually add the aroma hops the next time I brew this! I waited ten days before dry-hopping, hoping the hop aroma and flavor would show up. It didn't. I'm not saying this method doesn't work or have the potential to be amazing, it just didn't do diddly for me. Probably user error...

Therefore, as my window of normal dry-hopping had passed, I decided to dry hop this beer in the keg - something I very rarely do. After an awkward moment of buying ladies pantyhose at the local CVS, I went home and stuffed the (sanitized) leg of the stocking with a damn near a half pound of Citra and Simcoe hops. This "Hindenburg" sized hop bag is currently sitting in the bottom of the keg, refrigerated at 40F. Now, the real question:  How long should I leave this thing in the beer for?! I have heard people say they leave their hops in the keg until the thing is kicked, others say no more than three weeks max. I am a little worried that such a large amount of hops, in such a small amount of beer (4 gallons), might give off some grassy flavors. Tomorrow will be day 7 of dry-hopping. 

Aside, I sneaked a two pints of this beer today and holy crap is this thing hoppy! The bitterness isn't very strong or prominent, though the aroma and flavor of this beer is just pure and resiny, pine and tropical fruit. Sorta of like eating hop cones. Needless to say, I like where this batch is going. Furthermore, the Ardennes yeast went to town on the wort, taking the gravity from 1.064 to 1.004! It drinks much too easy for a 7.8% ABV beer. Unless I hear and doom and gloom stories of ruined batches from leaving the hops in the keg for too long, I'll probably let the hops sit a bit longer. And if the Pats win the Superbowl this weekend, I might just end up drinking the whole thing!


  1. I did a hop stand in my last pale ale. 1 oz each of Chinook, Crystal, and East Kent Goldings. I did get a much bigger mouthfeel, and a bit of a more pronounced aroma. Not much more flavor though. I did 40 mins never getting any lower than 180. I'm not really decided on whether or not its worth the extra time added to the brew day. Dry hopping is so much easier and effective. I think yeast play a big part in this too. I've found the more flocculent yeast to soak up relatively more hop flavor and aroma than a dustier yeast like 001/1056.

    Strangely, the Tim Taylor Landlord clone I just did smells amazing and it only had a 1 oz styrian goldings addition at 5 mins. I hope it sticks around through packaging.

    Cheers. Go Pats (or at least former Gators on the patriots)

  2. Good to read your review, Will. Too bad the technique did not work in your case (and too bad for the Patriots). I can't speak from much experience but I'm coming around to the conclusion that in order to have pronounced aroma you simply need to use a pronounced amount of hops (NSS). Just about all the techniques I've read about use these methods with a lot of hops which in a way makes me think if it's that particular technique is what is taking a set amount of hops to that next aromatic level. But in a beer like Andrew's Landlord, it worked!

    I've used nearly a quarter pound of Amarillo as the only hop addition at 15 minutes and no way did I need to dryhop that beer. The beer was so aromatic that when a kegpost mishap drained half the keg onto my freezer floor, I could smell it well before I knew what happened.

  3. I'm shocked to se this technique being hyped as something new? I've been using this same technique since at least 1983...don't remember where I picked it up or who suggested it to me way back then, but I just figured this was the way it was _supposed_ to be done. Pretty wild.


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