Author Topic: Whole leaf hops versus pellet hops? (It's not the question you think)  (Read 5204 times)

Offline cowardm

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Ok, so I'm not here to ask which is better.  I'm pretty sure that's been done before.  My question has probably been done before, but after a little searching I couldn't find anything.  So, here it goes.

In the Papazian book he says "One-quarter ounce of whole hops contrast with three ounces of hop pellets" (p64).  And he never mentions it again, but right before the recipes section he does specify that all hops used in his recipes are whole hops.  What's weirder is that in How to Brew by John Palmer he mentions no weight/ratio distinction that I could find and never specifies which he uses in his recipes except to say that he recommends switching it up for different parts of the brewing process and even goes so far as to show two pictures side by side of whole and pellet hops demonstrating the brewing process (p82) indicating it doesn't matter.

If a recipe calls for 1oz of cascade hops I could choose either 1oz pellet or 1oz whole leaf depending on my preference?  Or as according to Papazian if it calls for hops do I just assume it's whole hops and if I opt for pellet get 12 times more in pellet?  That sounds nuts and expensive.

PS.  I'm simply using pellets because I'm still new and whole hops seem pricey and hard to get your hands on.
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Offline corkybstewart

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It's got to be a typo.  Pellets allegedly give a little more stuff(flavor/bitterness) than whole hops per weight but I've read that it's 10% more at best.
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico

Offline weithman5

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i am not sure exactly but i think there are two types of pellet hops:  90 and 45.  such that the "90" means that 90 grams of these pellets has the same bittering/oils of 100 grams of whole, the 45 means it only takes 45 grams to equal 100 grams.  what is missing is stems, leaves ie. vegetal matter.  if you want less vegetal matter you would use the 45.  I suspect these are expensive and most pellet hops we get are the 90 variety.  so there would only be, as mentioned, about 10% difference.  if you are using fresh hops off your own rhizomes, expect them to behave a little "stronger"
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Offline a10t2

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Hey, that's exactly the question I thought!

HopUnion says the difference in utilization is "up to 20%".
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Offline aluminumpark

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could he just be talking about by volume?    3 oz of pellets probably take up the same space as a quarter oz of whole.  I don't have that book though

Offline schristian619

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I'm not sure on the 90 vs 45 pellets issue, but I do know that pellet hops have better utilization for bittering than whole hops do.  I think a good rule of thumb is assume 10% better utilization.  So .9oz pellets + 1oz whole leaf.  If you use a brewing software like beersmith or beer alchemy, it will ask you what for the hops are in and calculate IBUs accordingly.  Also, I have never heard that pellets give more flavor than whole, just bittering qualities.  I actually think they give less flavor, but thats just me.

Offline beer_crafter

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The ""One-quarter ounce of whole hops contrast with three ounces of hop pellets" is a caption of a photo illustrating the APPEARANCE of pellet hops vs leaf.  By weight, pellets are slightly more efficient (10%).

Offline yaleterrace

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i have never used pellet hops, and never will, because i have some inexplicable attraction to whole leaf hops.  Beyond pellet/whole hop ratios, (which should basically be an alpha acid content difference, and can be measured accordingly,) there are also some other factors, mainly freshness and volume.  Pelletizing hops is great for many reasons, from what I hear, including the smaller amount of space needed for storage, but they can stale faster as well.  It is certainly a matter of storage, and how quickly they are used, etc., but I like the idea of using unprocessed, fresh (dried, but not old) hops in my beer.  Pelletized hops will also break up almost immediately in a boil, and can clog/coat equipment more so than whole leaf cones.

good luck and cheers!

Offline dbeechum

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Pellet hops store dramatically better than whole cone hops. The tighter packaging actually reduces oxygen exposure to the majority of hop material. So given the age of the hops that most of us will be able to purchase, pellets are fresher. It's also incredibly difficult to efficiently evacuate or displace oxygen from all of those nooks and crannies in a cone.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 11:01:53 AM by dbeechum »
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Offline richardt

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Agree w/ dbeechum on pellets storing better than leaf or whole cone hops.  All the literature seems to back him up on that point.
The caveat is that you want your supplier (whether it is your LHBS or an online source) to be packaging it in one of those vacuum-sealed impermeable foil pouches that prevent light and oxygen exposure.  3 months ago, I bought some hops from an online source that sent my hop orders in aiplock baggies (not cool).  They've since gone to foil vacuum-sealed packaging.

Offline weithman5

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to the point of pellet hops and storage, i am considering creating a contraption to make plugs out of my home grown hops.  i have seen a thread somewhere but can't find it again where a hydraulic press was used to compress the hops in to a plug and then i have a vacuum sealer for food storage. 
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Offline billv

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Greetings everyone!  Just got here...

Agreed with the general consensus that pellets are a little more efficient than whole leaf.  I use Promash and there's always a little difference when switching the hop type from pellet to whole.

I agree that storage is easier with pellets, although I've had good results storing whole leaf hops in the freezer for several months.  I am sure that they are degrading somewhat, but I still get what I need from them.

The one thing that's really nice about whole leaf hops is the relative ease of seperating the hops from the wort.  So much more straightforward dealing with big cones vs little pieces!