Hops Squeezing and Hops Absorption – More Bitterness PleaseFriday, May 10th, 2013
Should we squeeze out the hops bag or not?
A recent IPA brew session called for 7 ounces of hops. The recipe is 110 IBU with a lot of late hopping. For this brew, I did not squeeze out the hops bags and left them behind after draining the kettle. I then squeezed out the hops bags into a small bucket, and here is what I got:
The resulting beer wasn’t as bitter as I would have liked, maybe more like 80 IBUs, and I think the lack of squeezing is the reason. I tasted what I collected, and holy moly was that bitter! It was like an IPA espresso!
There are claims floating around online that say avoid squeezing or else harshness will be extracted. That applies to the steeping grain bag, but NOT for the hops bags. When it comes to hops – squeeze away!
On lighter beers with only an ounce or two I skip the squeezing step, but for IPAs I will be squeezing from now on. A dedicated set of BBQ tongs work the best. Sanitize them first along with the kettle lid and primary fermentor. Don’t use dirty bare hands to squeeze, as this could infect the batch. Not to mention, wait for the wort to cool down if using an immersion chiller. If using a counter flow chiller or plate chiller, be extra careful about squeezing the hops, which will be boiling hot.
How the Brewer’s Friend recipe editor and brew feature handle hops absorption:
- The hops absorption amount shows up in the water requirements report (recipe tools -> water requirements). The result is based on the amount of hops in the recipe, and your hops absorption equipment profile setting. The system correctly excludes dry hops and mash hops from the hops absorption calculation.
- My profile was set to the default hops absorption rate of 0.15 quarts per ounce. At 7 ounces of hops, that comes to a little over 1 quart. In measuring what I got in the bucket, it is spot on. The default of 0.15 qt/oz was accurate in this case.
- Hops absorption negatively impacts brew house efficiency. This comes into play if your batch size target is set to ‘fermentor’ (which means brew house efficiency is the efficiency factor the recipe is working with). If your batch size target is set to ‘kettle’, then you are targeting ending kettle efficiency, and hops absorption doesn’t count against that. Read more about efficiency here.
- For purposes of designing a recipe ‘to the fermentor’ that uses a lot of hops, if you are not squeezing out the bags, adjust efficiency down 1-2% to compensate for hops absorption.