Do I Need To Use a Bag To Dry Hop?

Question

Ready to brew my fist all grain brew this weekend. The recipe I am using calls for dry hopping in the secondary fermenter.  No problem I can do that. Question is do I need to use a “hop bag”, and does it need to be sterile? How does that work? I’m sure I can just add the Dry hops with out the bag…will the hops settle before bottling time? And is this called “unfiltered“?? Thanks for the help.

Answer

Using a hop bag is totally optional. Some people like them and some don’t find them that useful. If you do use them you’ll want to make sure they’re sterile, same for anything you’re going to throw into your wort after the boil.

Two tips for using a hop bag.

1) You’ll want to weigh them down with something that’s similar in weight to the amount of hops you’re throwing in. These weights will need to be sanitized too, so pick something that you can boil or soak in Starsan. Marbles or stainless steel nuts and bolts work well. Avoid anything copper as the chemical makeup of the wort tends to react funny with it and ruin your beer.

If you don’t weigh the hop bag down it will just float on top and not get the yumminess of the hops into your beer.

2) Try tying some fishing line to your hop bag (sanitized of course) so it will be suspended in the middle of your wort. This tends to give you a little bit better results as well.

If you decide to forgo the bag altogether, I’d rouse the hops about half way through your dry hopping period. All that means is gently shaking your carboy (or bucket) making sure to keep it sealed and airlock in place. This gives you better hop utilization as well. The hops will settle out just fine, especially if you use Irish Moss or WhirlFloc or some other fining agent.