Hop Whirlpool - Does steeping at lower temperature improve final hop character?

drew's picture

If you're gunning for big hop aroma to your beer without the grassiness of dry hopping, traditional practice calls for a large dose of hops after the boil has concluded. These "whirlpool" hops, so called because properly the wort is cycled to create a whirlpool, are thought to give a big dose of aromatic hop oils that aren't volatilized by the high heat and action of a boil.

Usually this practice is done at temperatures just off the boil but recent trends have pushed for the addition of whirlpool hops to start at lower temps around 170F (76.7C). Some are advocating for even more substantial temperature drops before whirlpool, calling for a drop to 120F (48.9C) before adding the hops. This is driven by the flashpoint of many of the aromatic essential oil compounds (<140F/60C). In theory, by adding the hops after dropping below this point, but while still having plenty of heat, you'll extract and preserve more oils into the beer wort than via traditional methods.

(For an example of this discussion - listen to James Altweis of Gorst Valley Hops on BeerSmith)

Subject: 

Proposed By: 

Question: 

Does steeping at a reduced whirlpool temperature (~120F) provide more robust hop character from the same hop charge compared to more traditional brewing practices of adding whirlpool hops just post boil

Hypothesis: 

There will be a qualitative noticeable difference between the beers with the lower temperature variant displaying more hop aroma.

Brewing Sessions Needed: 

1

Recipe: 

Special Equipment/Process: 

  • Boil the wort together. Have two vessels set for whirlpooling the hops
  • Recipe Changes
    • Only use one whirlpool addition per vessel according to the instructions

Experimental Procedure: 

  1. Brew enough Jim's Whirlpool Pale to have equal fermentation portions.
  2. Boil the beer as according to the recipe. After the boil, chill both beers to 170F. At this point split half your post-boil volume into another vessel and add the first addition of whirlpool hops. Stir vigorously (or setup a recirculation via a pump) and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Continue chilling the first portion of wort until it hits 120F. Add the second addition of whirlpool hops to this kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  4. After each kettle has steeped for 30 minutes, finish chilling to fermentation temperature, transfer to your fermenters and go.
  5. Ferment both batches in the same space and under the same conditions, especially temperature. Match the fermenters and other equpment.
  6. After fermentation subsides, record the length of fermentation and the final gravities.
  7. Package the two beers in exactly the same fashion. (Bottle primed with sugar, kegs and force carbonated, etc) - Record packaging methodology
  8. Perform a triangle test and record the results
  9. Ask the testers for their observations on the samples. DO NOT Reveal the Difference between the samples
  10. Discuss the results and record any further observations

Recipe Link: http://www.experimentalbrew.com/recipes/jims-whirlpool-pale

Result Writeups: 

Proposal Podcast: 

Results Podcast: 

Further Exploration Paths: 

Compare the effect of 120F whirlpool hops to dry hops. Compare the impact when using "newer' more oil heavy hops!
Klickitat Jim
Klickitat Jim's picture
Low Temp Whirlpool

I find this one very interesting. How cool would it be to find a method of adding sufficient hop aroma that did not impact clarity or risk post fermentation oxidation.

Klickitat Jim
Klickitat Jim's picture
Low Temp Whirlpool

Another test of this could be to brew two identical APAs, or split a batch. One batch using traditional dry hopping, the other using those would-be dry hops in the whirlpool at 120 rather than dry hopping with them. Then compare with a blind triangle.

drew
drew's picture
I think that will be a good

I think that will be a good follow on experiment. In the meanwhile, do you have a simple APA recipe that you want to offer up for the crowd to use?

Klickitat Jim
Klickitat Jim's picture
OG 1.060 70% pale, 30% light

OG 1.060 70% pale, 30% light munich, mash 154F at 5.4ph with a little SO4. 35 IBUs Magnum at 60, 2 oz Cascade and 2oz Centennial at 170F whirlpool for 30 min rest, 2oz Cascade and 2oz Centennial at 120F whirlpool for 15 min rest OR at dry hop last 4 days in primary. 1056/001/05 at 65

drew
drew's picture
Pale Ale

Ok, for the experiment let's do this - we'll strike the dry hop and then only call for one whirlpool - either at 170 or 120.

Klickitat Jim
Klickitat Jim's picture
170/120

I wonder though, if the idea is to find a way to get aroma without the grassiness of dry hopping, we really should be comparing those. Assuming a lot of brewers bitter at 60, that should stay the same. The 170-180 whirlpool for flavor sans bitterness is well established and accepted. So that leaves the unsettled theory that one could get sufficient aroma by moving the dry hop to 120 whirlpool. Consider making the recipe for both samples having the same 60 min hops, the same 170 whirlpool hops, then the trial beer having hops at 120 whirlpool, with the control sample getting those same hops for 4 days at terminal gravity (typical dry hopping).

One final suggestion is altering the 120 dose from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. I did a 120 addition today and it took about 5-7 minutes just to break them up. That gives another 5-10 to freeball through the wort. As I was waiting for 30 minutes to pass, at about 15 minutes I started smelling fresh hops. That is a sign that I had freed up the volatiles and they were starting to escape into the air. I suspect that too long at 120 and it goes past its intended goal. (Looks like you already had it that way, my bad)

So like this...
Hops: 
0.75 oz Magnum Pellets 60 minutes
2.00 oz Cascade Pellets Whirlpool #1 (170F for 30 minutes)
2.00 oz Centennial Pellets Whirlpool #1 (170F for 30 minutes)
2.00 oz Cascade Pellets Whirlpool #2 (120F for 15 minutes) For control version these go in dryhop
2.00 oz Centennial Pellets Whirlpool #2 (120F for 15 minutes) For control version these go in dryhop

Sorry for long winded, but its probably better to hash it out rather than spin our wheels.
Jim

drew
drew's picture
Hrm, I don't really see this

Hrm, I don't really see this as a whirlpool vs. dry hop experiment. To me the nugget is - is there a qualitative difference between doing 170F vs. 120F. Is it worth the extra effort to attempt to drive down the temp for this other whirlpool setting. After all the theory is that 170F is still hot enough to flash off some of the essential oils, but 120F isn't.

Klickitat Jim
Klickitat Jim's picture
I see where you're coming

I see where you're coming from. I'm sold on the difference between late hop vs 170/30 for my APA preferences. What I am shooting for now is an extra boost in aroma, approaching dry hop levels that modern hop heads seek, but without the haze or rapid drop out or staling risk that dry hopping brings.

I'm with you though. Fun and provocative experiment

drew
drew's picture
So it sounds like we're good

So it sounds like we're good to proceed. We'll open the experiment for signups shortly and will be sending hops to participants.

I think we can revisit the 120 vs. dry hop as a qualitative experiment in a bit.

Klickitat Jim
Klickitat Jim's picture
Cool

Cool

blbvtec
blbvtec's picture
Analysis

When we do the tasting is there any specific form that we should be using to record the results?

drew
drew's picture
You'll use the Report Results

You'll use the Report Results link on the left hand side of the menu.

jasonclick
jasonclick's picture
Jim- I was about to enter

Jim- I was about to enter your recipe into Brewers Friend but see you've already entered it there. I appreciate it.

jasonclick
jasonclick's picture
confused

so that I'm getting the idea... after the 60 minute boil... chill the entire batch to 170F. drain half to another vessel to whirlpool. Am I then doing 1 hop addition @ 170f for the first half and let steep for 30 min and then the other half chill to 120f and do one hop addition for 15 min? it looks like 2 things being changed... time to steep and temp to steep. do i have it correct?

drew
drew's picture
Temp is the only variable.

Temp is the only variable. Both kettles get the same amount of hops for the same amount of time (30 minutes). First kettle gets them at 170F, Second kettle at 120F.

birdman
questions

I have signed up to this experiment and will brew on Sunday. Just a couple of comments / questions to clarify a couple of things

1. Batch size and units - I think it might be better in future to include hop additions in oz/gallon (or even better for metric europeans like myself g/L). Initially I was confused as to whether this was a 2 x 2.75 gallon batch or 2 x 5.5 gallons but finding the brewersfriend recipe cleared this up for me.

2. Substitutions / "Artistic License" - I will do my best to follow the recipe to the letter as this will be my first IGOR expt, but given the nature of the variable being tested here I was initially thinking of changing a few things out (not a fan of chico and have 10 lb of hops in my freezer right now but no Cascade). What are peoples opinions on changing things up within reason? or do people feel it is really important to try and keep things identical to draw more significance from the results?

Right now I could substitute chico for my house ale yeast (WY1318 - London Ale III), and Cascade for pretty much any other IPA type hop (lets say Citra) and brew without having to go the store for new ingredients. Part of me thinks this might even give more meaningful results as it would be testing the same single variable under several sets of experimental conditions (recipe).

drew
drew's picture
Some recipe variation is fine

Some recipe variation is fine and might lead to some useful information. Note the changes when you report the results

jasonclick
jasonclick's picture
birdman- I'll be using Marris

birdman- I'll be using Marris Otter to substitute the 2 row since I've got a 55# sack of MO and using WLP013 since I'll be kegging a Pale Ale today and will be reusing the yeast from it. I'm thinking as long as the experiment is still done, the base beer or a slight variation of it should be fine.

birdman
Thanks for the feedback guys.

Thanks for the feedback guys. WY1318 and Citra it is

jason.mundy
jason.mundy's picture
Chiller

I would recommend having a bucket of starsan nearby when you start chilling. Once I hit 170F, I found myself scrambling to find a place to rest my chiller while I separated the batch into two kettles. I guess an off valve for the hose would have worked to :P

drew
drew's picture
Never leave home without your

Never leave home without your handy dandy bucket!

birdman
Just finished up

Just finished cleaning after brewing this today
http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/recipe/view/312695/experimental-br...

Looking forward to collecting some results

Caseyprice
Tips on temp.

I usually do 10 gallon batches so chilling is more difficult than keeping heat in. But today I did a 3 gallon stove top BIAB method and transferred to individual buckets to do the post boil hop additions. found it difficult to keep the temps in the 170 and 120 range respectively for a full 30 mins with only 1.5 gallons in each whirlpool bucket. May be worth keeping an old towel ready to wrap around these buckets if you do small batches. Douglas Adams was right. Always have your towel. :)

allaway
Interesting. I imagine we

Interesting. I imagine we might see several different approaches here...I brewed this today and just let the temperature naturally fall (which is what I usually do during my hopstands/whirlpools).

odetozymase.wordpress.com

twitter: @allawayr for some beer but primarily science thoughts

drew
drew's picture
Good point - when folks

Good point - when folks report in they should note about their schemes for the post chill whirlpool phase!

jason.mundy
jason.mundy's picture
Racked to a kegs today

Denny/Drew, you should be glad you have a lot of participants on this experiment. The brew was so delicious, I am worried it might not last until the homebrew meeting.

I racked to kegs today... and loved drinking the samples from the hydrometer.

Pictures here: https://goo.gl/photos/7NwUU8PSjtWStRkU8

drew
drew's picture
It's a good problem to have,

It's a good problem to have, no?

Patience! :)

Klickitat Jim
Klickitat Jim's picture
Tasty

That's cool to hear. I really like that recipe. It was fun to be a part of this, even though I haven't finished my triangle yet.

Chirobrewer
Results?

Updates or results???