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Ryane
09/22/10 10:44 AM  
Capping a Red with Hops?
So, I have another question hopefully someone will know an answer to

I came across a reference in and old brewing text (somehow forgot to bookmark it) that mentioned brewers using a ton of hops to cap a flanders red ferementation for the extended aging, it was remarked that they did this to limit oxygen exposure over the long ferment

unfortunately I cant seem to find the reference to this again, has anyone else come across this or have you tried it?

GuitarLord5000
09/22/10 12:14 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
I've seen the same thing written in Wild Brews.

Cheers,

Dave

GuitarLord5000
09/22/10 12:23 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
From the Bottom of Page 213 to Page 214 in Wild Brews:

"Flanders brewers cover the top of the wort in the barrel with a quantity of aged hops-a sort of man made pellicle-to reduce acetic acid an oxidation from head space. This layer of hops will not only protect the wort from oxidation, but will also block any fungus that might grow in the head space from making contact with the wort. Examination of this layer on a beer after an extended period of aging reveals a white substance, likely mold, growing on the top."

Cheers,

Dave

SteveG
09/22/10 02:38 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
<<Examination of this layer on a beer after an extended period of aging reveals a white substance, likely mold, growing on the top.>>

Doesn't sound like its all that effective! I'm not so sure this idea is all that relivant to home production of a flanders red.

GuitarLord5000
09/22/10 03:18 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
<<Doesn't sound like its all that effective! I'm not so sure this idea is all that relivant to home production of a flanders red.>>

While I'm not sure how relevant it would be for homebrewers, I think that it would be very effective in blocking mold from contacting the beer in larger sour breweries.

<<This layer of hops will not only protect the wort from oxidation, but will also block any fungus that might grow in the head space from making contact with the wort.>>

That sounds like precisely what it accomplishes. The mold grows on top of the hops, in the head space, but doesn't come into contact with the beer. How is this not effective?

ryane
09/22/10 03:41 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
hmm, funny it mentions aged hops in wild brews, in the text that i read it didnt say anything about them being aged at all

I was actually thinking about giving it a try with fresh hops and see how it goes

SteveG
09/23/10 10:19 AM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
Ah, so when it says:

<<Examination of this layer on a beer after an extended period of aging reveals a white substance, likely mold, growing on the top.>>

it means the growing on top of the hop cap, not the beer itself? I wonder why mold spores would not simply travel down a loose covering of hops - no matter how think that might be - to get to where the sugar is?

ryane, your question suggests using the hops not as just a barrier but for flavor impact. Is that what you're going for?

I can say I've made a lot of flanders red over the years, maturing it in a glass carboy I have never seen mold develop. I would imagine they did the hop cap thing in Belgium because they were open fermenting, that would of course be a lot different from our enclosed conditions and in lieu of our current understanding of sanitation.

Big fan of experimenting here, but I'd like to point out that this one seems pretty out of context. If you emulate what the old Belgians did without keeping consistent with the conditions that necessitated what they did then you are glossing over the point - or at least their point. But, it might be neat to see what happens if you dry hop a FR by floating hops on top. It seems like they would impact the beer less, IMO for a FR that would be a good thing.

So please let us know how it works out, I would not bother researching in something like Wild Brews though since you'd be working under totally different conditions for totally different reasons to attain a totally different effect then what the book depicts. I mean that quote references a "barrel", who uses that any more? Even Rodenbach traded that in for stainless like a decade ago. That doesn't make what you are looking to do a bad thing, it just makes info on traditional application irrelevant. Have you chosen a hop variety?

Ryane
09/23/10 12:13 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
So in the old text I was reading, they didnt say a thing about the hops that went on as a cap being aged, but they did mention using hops that were aged in the boil, that got me thinking that they might have been using fresh hops for the cap

Either way Im prolly gonna give it a try on my next batch and see how things turn out

SteveG
09/23/10 01:32 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
Interesting. Maybe if they are just sitting on top the flavor doesn't filter down and it doesn't matter so much. I know when I dry hop I use a hop bag and weight it. If I don't they'll all float, it gives me the feeling that the contact is not as good as it could be.
GuitarLord5000
09/23/10 01:54 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
The first time I dry hopped a beer, I didn't weight it down. The hops just floated on top. While it didn't give quite as much hop flavor as my later, weighted dry hopped beers, there was still a good bit of flavor.

<<So in the old text I was reading, they didnt say a thing about the hops that went on as a cap being aged, but they did mention using hops that were aged in the boil.>>

Honestly, I can't imagine a Flanders brewery keeping two different hops (aged and fresh) for this purpose. If you hold this as true:

<<it was remarked that they did this to limit oxygen exposure over the long ferment>>

..then the purpose of this is solely to have a man made pellicle to protect the beer, and not to introduce any hops flavors into the beer which would surely happen to some degree with a large amount of fresh hops tossed on top of a beer.

Unless you are doing a true spontaneous ferment in a vessel with headspace, I can't see any real purpose for using this technique.

Of course, this is your experiment, so do what you like. If you end up doing it, please keep us posted on the results.

Ryane
09/23/10 02:39 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
I dunno, there can be large differences in the way a beer tastes from small nuances in the production,

And they didnt necessarily have to keep two different kinds around, Flanders were brewed in the fall, couldnt they have simply boughten their hops for aging around the same time they brewed and instead of using aged hops that had to be stored for long periods, taking up space, used instead that fresher hops ?

I guess im merely speculating, and the only way is to try it side by side, the only thing that I wonder about is grassiness coming off the hops from such an extended aging in the beer, although Ive done other things with sours that would probably ruin a "clean" beer

jaymo
09/23/10 03:11 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
Dry hopping, if you want to call it that for such an extended period, seems like it would give some pretty stale, off flavors when done for the extent of time that we're talking for a Flanders.

I believe Mike T dry hopped some Flanders type stuff of his awhile ago and enjoyed it. Mike, how did those bottles hold up as time went on?

jaymo
09/23/10 03:22 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
Here's what I was thinking of:

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2009/12/dry-hopped-flanders-red-tasting.html

Mike T
09/23/10 03:33 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
I went through them pretty quickly. The one bottle of the bottled dry hopped Sour Butternut Squash Brown I held onto for 2 months was pretty ~eh by the end, lost the fresh hop punch that made it interesting.
SteveG
09/23/10 04:49 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
Good ole MikeT! How you been?

I think in the end, the real question posed by this thread is "what does a dry hopped FR taste like?" Avoiding mold and oxidation is easy enough with normal home brew supplies, as I said centuries old solutions are out of context. The common mindset is that hops and sour beers don't mix well. Nor do they with German wheat beers. But Brooklyn made a hoppy hefe that worked great! So who can say?

Anyway, I love hearing about how something experimental worked, I hope to hear good news from you Ryane! Steve

Mike T
09/23/10 09:37 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
It is really hop bitterness and sours that don't mix in my experience. I've found that dry hopping with big citrusy American varieties works well in sours, citrus+sour etc... Cantillon, New Belgium, and Bullfrog have all played with the idea with good results (Just had a bottle of Monk's Cafe Gueuze, dry hopped with Amarillo, last night, delicious!)

I've been well, had my first article in BYO this month (on sour fruit beers) much thanks to the encouragement/advice I've recieved from the gang on here over the last four years.

SteveG
09/24/10 01:52 PM  
Re: Capping a Red with Hops?
Congrats Mike! Now that you mention it I do agree that bitterness is really the sticking point with sours.
 
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