Time for Beer

Interpreting Beer recipes – Hop additions

It’s ANZAC day long weekend and I have just finished brewing a clone of the famous Brew Dog Punk IPA. It is a VERY hoppy beer and requires many hop additions at almost every stage of the process. I don’t know about you, but I find interpreting hop additions for homebrew recipes in books and on the internet can be difficult. When and how to add hops to the brew is the one part of the recipes that always seems to lack detail, which makes it hard to work out how to get the best results. I will use the Punk IPA recipe as an example and explain what I have done with the batch I just put down. I hope you find this useful and I will post the results in a few weeks.

Common Hop Addition Terms found in Recipes

These are some of the common terms used in recipes for hop additions and what I think they mean. I am no Beer-ologist, so please go easy on me if I get it wrong….we are all learning here:

First Hops

When this term is used it means add the hops upon completion of sparging, as you are bringing the wort to the boil.

90, 60, 30, 15, and 0 minutes

The recipe will indicate how long you should boil the wort for and the time intervals are from the start of the boil. Generally you boil the wort for 60 minutes, so the 60 minute addition is added when the wort starts boiling. I will explain what I interpret 0 minutes to mean in later section of this post.

Start, Middle, End

These terms divide the boil time up into parts. The “start” indicates the start of the boil. For a 60 minute boil the “middle” is 30 minutes after the wort started boiling.

Hop-stand

This term is used when you need to hold the wort at a specific temperature for an amount of time to allow the hop oils to be extracted from the hops.

Whirlpool

Whirlpool is a technique used at the end of the boil to move the residual hop matter into a pile in the centre of the kettle by stirring the wort. This technique reduces the hop matter being transferred to the fermenter.

Dry hop (sometimes with the added info of “dry hop for 5 days”)

Dry Hopping is adding the hops either during the final stages of fermentation or after the completion of primary fermentation. This method adds those floral and fruity aromas that we all love so much!

Example Recipe – Brewdog Punk IPA

Below is the hop addition list for Punk IPA and the full recipe can be found in the DIY Dog book which can be downloaded from the Brewdog website. I will explain how I interpreted this.

As a side note, I reckon many of the clone recipes were written by the hop companies to sell more hops to homebrewers. They often use multiple types of hops and in quantities that are arguably much more than you need to get the desired result. However, that’s a topic for another day!

Start

Chinook 20g
Ahtanum 12.5g

Middle

Chinook 20g
Ahtanum 12.5g

End

Chinook 27.5g
Ahtanum 12.5g
Simcoe 12.5g
Nelson Sauvin 12.5g

Dry Hop

Chinook 47.5g
Ahtanum 37.5g
Simcoe 37.5g
Nelson Sauvin 20g
Cascade 37.5g
Amarillo 10g

Boil Additions

The Punk IPA instructions call for a 60 minute boil. This means that the “start” hops need to be added as soon as you get a rolling boil. I usually have a fair bit of foaming occur at the start of the boil and have to play around with the heating elements to ensure I don’t get a boil over. As soon as I get this under control, I add the first hops and start the clock. I keep my hops in hop bags and put all of the different hops for each addition in the same bag. You can tip the hops directly into the boiling wort, but I find hop bags, or a hop spider make it easier to clean up at the end.

The next addition, “Middle” will be 30 minutes after you added the “Start” hops. Pretty simple stuff.

My Punk IPA Clone, almost at the boil. Interpreting hop additions for homebrew can be difficult. When and  you should add your hops is often lacking in recipes.
My Punk IPA Clone, almost at the boil.

End of Boil Hop Additions

Here is where it gets tricky and a bit of interpretation comes into play. The “End” hops are generally added when the wort has been boiling for 60 minutes and you turn the heating elements off (often called “flame-out”). There is a lot of scientific research, blogs, and brew club talk about the optimal time and temperature to add the hops at the end of the boil.

Unfortunately, very few online recipes give away the detail of what method to use and I guess it would depend on what system you are brewing on too. This is where the fun and creative individuality of the brewer comes in. Experiment and do what works best for you.

My End of Boil Method

Based upon what I have read and garnered from different sources, when I see a recipe that has an “End”, “0 minute” or “whirlpool” addition I now use the following method:

  • Remove the other hop bags from the kettle (obviously if you added the hops directly to the boil, skip this step)
  • Turn off the heating element and cool the wort to 70 degrees
  • Add the final hop addition
  • Keep the wort at 70 degrees for 10 minutes
  • Cool the wort to pitching temperature

The reason for cooling the wort to 70 degrees before adding the last hop addition is that there are different compounds in the hops that are released at different temperatures. I have been told that this temp. will get those good fruity flavours out of the hops. At this stage it is working for me, so until I get a handle of the chemistry behind it, which usually makes my eyes glaze over, I’m sticking with it! If you want to go all nerdy, there are plenty of other resources you can read.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping is another one where recipes are scant on the method. The recipes will say either “Dry hop after 5 days” or “Dry hop for 5 days after primary fermentation.” Sometimes they just say “dry hop.” Many people I have spoken to say that most of the alpha acids and hop oils that you want are extracted in the first 24 hours, and if you leave the hops in the brew for too long it can impart bitter or astringent flavours and you lose some of the aroma.

Some recipes call for multiple dry-hop additions too, but none I have seen provide a detailed schedule of when to add each and what to do with the first dry hop addition.

My Dry Hopping Method for this Recipe

Rather than add the full 190g dry hop in one go and leave it for 5 days, I will do the following with this batch of my Punk IPA clone:

  • Wait until final specific gravity (FG) is reached (aiming for 1.011)
  • Dump the trub (I am fermenting in a 27L Kegland Fermzilla, which allows me to do this)
  • Add half the weight of each of the “dry hops” (i.e. ~24g chinook, ~19g Ahtanum etc.)
  • Leave the hops in there for 24 hours, then reduce temperature to 14 degrees Celsius for an additional 24 hours
  • Dump the trub and hops (again I can do this due to the fermenter)
  • Add the second half of the dry hops and leave them for 24 hours
  • Cold crash to 4 degrees Celsius and leave it for 24 hours
  • transfer to a keg.

The lack of detail in the recipes is a bit frustrating, but also understandable. It leaves the method up to the brewer and allows you to apply skills and knowledge that you gather along the way. Hopefully the methods I have provided are useful for interpreting hop additions for homebrew. I will add another post to let you know how the Punk IPA clone turns out!

Good Brewing,

Daniel – Time for Beer!

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