The Dry Hops That Would Not Drop
The fermentation of my Black IPA kicked in about a day later than usual (I pitched a tad too high) but once it got going it was robust and active. I thank the San Diego Super Strain for that. In fact, I probably should’ve hooked up a blow-off tube since my airlock was pretty filthy with krausen. After a week of vigorous fermentation, I racked off to my secondary and prepared to dry hop for the first time in my brewing career.
The BYO recipe called for Warrior and Cascade but I chose Citra. I like their pronounced aromatic qualities and I’m hoping that the bitterness they impart will add complexity to the roasted quality I’m seeking from the malt. But foremost, I want this beer to arouse the sense of smell. I love the juxtaposition of a jet-black brew and the bright tropical fruit aromatics this hop will provide. I want a strong but not too aggressive hop characteristic to greet the drinker’s nose.
I loaded up a muslin bag with an ounce of whole flower Citra and managed to wrestle the bag through the narrow opening of the carboy. Once inside, the dang thing, with all that air and all those dry, light, air-filled hops simply refused to sink below the surface. The mound just floated there. I gently tried to shake the carboy (I didn’t want to disturb the sediment too much) but to no avail. I failed to move the bag any further down. It wasn’t even completely wet. Great! Yet another cause for concern and a new set of questions I didn’t have answers for.
Did the hops need to sink?
Would this compromise my finished beer’s hop profile?
Should I have used a bucket with a removable lid?
At my home brew club meeting a few nights later, I bent Princeton Hombrew owner Joe’s ear a bit about my floating hop island. He assured me that I needn’t worry … too much.
So I moved the carboy to a cool, dark place and tried not to worry … too much.
After a week on the hops I prepared to bottle.
Popping the bung I was greeted with a fantastic aroma of the Citra; so far so good. I took a gravity reading and then downed the sample. And for the first time in a while, I was overjoyed with the taste of one of my creations. The beer was really promising. It had a lovely hop aroma, a solid roasted malt middle, and a dose of IPA bitterness that made me smile. “If it tastes like this after it’s carbonated, I’ll be thrilled.” I said to whoever was within earshot, which happened to be my disinterested two year old son.
Bottling was a breeze this time – it isn’t always – but now I was faced with a carboy with a bloated bag full of hops inside it. How to get that out through the narrow neck? To my delight it was surprisingly easy to do. I tipped the carboy upside until I could reach the bag. With two fingers I slowly and carefully pulled. The bag slid smoothly out getting stuck Grinch-like only once. I poked at the stuck spot with my finger and it came free and then slipped out completely. No broken bag, no hops everywhere.
Things were looking good for this brew but, as Tom Petty would say, now came the hard part: the waiting. It'd be two weeks before this was ready to drink. 14 long days before I'd know if I'd finally brewed a beer I could be happy with.Last modified on