IPA’s - Better off kegged or bottled?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Megary, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    It has been my experience with brewing them and also with researching them that IPA’s (especially homebrewed IPA’s) have a tendency to lose both their hop aroma and flavor with the marching of time. Certainly some hold up better than others, but I’d be hard pressed to think of any that got better with age, commercial, homebrewed or otherwise. Sometimes the flavor and aroma just fades, leaving the bitterness behind. Sometimes they get grassy or astringent.

    So a simple question:
    Has anyone noticed any difference in how their IPA’s age depending on whether they are bottled or kegged?

    I ask because I really can’t drink a keg fast enough to *not* notice a difference by the end of the keg. So I’m wondering if I might be better off bottling the 2 or 3 IPA’s I make a year. Otherwise, I just might switch to making these for company where I know they will be gone in short order.
     
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  2. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    There are a few ipa's that do well with aging. Dogfish Head 120 Minute being one of them. They need to be big hefty brews and if course the hops do fade and change, but mostly for the better. That's not typical though and I think most homebrewers would have their work cut out for them brewing an 18% ipa.
    Just from my experience, I have had better luck with ipa's in the keg. For one, I can get them into the keg with pressure and drastically cut oxygen exposure. Another thing I do like about kegs and ipa's is you can dry hop in the keg and you can also add hops if the hop flavor and aroma start to deminish. I've got hop bags that I just suspend off the bottom by tying up with a bit of plain dental floss. Works very well. I know some brewers add hops directly to the keg and use a top draw to prevent clogging. I haven't done that.
    There are many out there though that do just fine bottling theirs up.
     
  3. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    IPAs don't last long enough around here to see noticeable hop fade. If you choose to bottle IPAs, maybe a smaller batch that can be consumed within a month or 2 from bottling day is the answer.
     
  4. CausticWolf

    CausticWolf Member

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    Yeah, I brew EXCLUSIVELY for consumption-ability. I live in Australia, and I'm from Chicago, so I'm accustomed to having great craft beers for about a buck a beer, my favorite IPA Lagunitas is 10 bucks a 12 pack. Here, in OZ land, it's 130 bucks for a 24 case of 375ml, (14 oz cans), so, it is WAY more economically viable to brew my own.

    I will brew my average IPA in probably a week. 5 days if the yeast is super happy and I'm lucky. I burst carb, so about 30-35 PSI for 24 hours, and release and drink.

    I used to bottle, from my experience, I'd say bottling has its taste advantages, but overall, if you carb to the right level, kegging is better!
     
  5. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I have noticed a bit of fade in hop aroma towards the end of a keg, but not enough degradation that it wasn't still enjoyable to drink. It has been a long time since I bottled an IPA, I typically only bottle stouts, porters, or spiced beers.
     
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  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    At least on paper, hop flavor and aroma should last a little better in bottles, given that the headspace to liquid ration changes drastically in the keg. The bottles simply offer less space for the flavor and aroma molecules to be displaced. Personally, I've found that even after 2-3 months there's still good hop aroma and flavor in the pale ale that I keep on tap. Brewing big batches gives me 2-4 kegs so it can be a long time between brewing and consumption.
    You might consider kegging and then pressure-filling a dozen or two bottles as soon as it's carbed satisfactorily. When the rest of the keg is gone, you'll be able to have some "fresh" beers rather than the last half of a fading keg.
     
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  7. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    It will usually take me a month to finish off a keg. The IPA's never go bad, but I can definitely tell that the bursting aroma and flavor mellow over time. I'm sure it's mostly my simple gravity transfer process that's to blame, but I have no intention of changing that. Maybe someday.

    I do like (@thunderwagn) the idea of dry hopping in the keg and maybe using a floating dip tube for this style of beer. Or, I may consider (@J A ) splitting half to the keg and half to bottles, which would be simple enough. Or just bottle the whole thing.

    Lots of good stuff, thanks.
     
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  8. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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  9. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Curious. There is the issue of leaving your beer on the hops in your fermenter too long, and getting grassy, or vegetal flavors. But adding hops to the keg which may stay in the keg for weeks. Would you need to pull the hop basket out of the keg at some point?
     
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  10. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    Never had that problem with the few batches I've keg hopped. It could be that I don't dry hop if I plan to keg hop, the colder temperature in the keg, or both.
     
  11. Frankenbrewer

    Frankenbrewer Well-Known Member

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    I've have not bottled since I bought my first kegging kit. I also have had IPA's over a month with no degrdation in taste but a bit in the aroma. I guess it all comes down to how critical you are in your homebrew from first tap to last.
     
  12. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    Like @BOB357 I've never had that problem at all. I have ended up with some tasty beers keg hopping.
     
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  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I've tried keg hopping once or twice I didn't like the results I got some Grassiness. I must admit the hop ball canister I use is miniscule for dry hop I think I can fit 15g in there wrong tool for the job.

    You know what might be a good Idea is suspend your hop bag in recieving keg and purge keg using fermentation co2 this way clearing the 02 out of the keg dry hop.
     

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