The last step for the Imperial IPA was to dry hop the beer. Basically, this means putting a bunch of whole hops into the wort (beer before it ferments) and letting the hops aroma migrate from the hops to the wort. It doesn't give any taste flavor but has a huge aromatic flavor that hits the nose as soon as you pour it. Shocking how much the smell affects your thoughts about the beer.
Here's what I learned from dry hopping:
- Hops float. I put them in a bag but the bag floated on top of the wort while fermenting. I'm interested to see how much aroma the beer got from having them float on top. In the future, I'll put a small weight in the bag to keep the submerged while the beer slowly ferments away. That will ensure that the maximum amount of aroma gets from hops to wort.
- A big bag of hops in the fermenter does not come out easily from a skinny hole in the fermenter. The fermenter is like a five gallon soda bottle. It has a narrow neck. I tried to pull the bag out through the neck but all the hops fell to the bottom and were trapped in the bag and wouldn't come out. I ended up cutting the bag, opening it up and digging out all the hops with a small stick while holding the fermenter upside down. Thankfully, all the wort had already been drained out. If someone had been videotaping this process, it would have been in America's Funniest Videos. For the future, I'm going to try and find a stainless steel tube with holes in it that I can stick in the fermenter and easily pull out when it's done.
Until my next batch, I'm looking forward to enjoying my IPA fresh from the basement! Cheer!