The Best Way To Dry Hop With Pellets (With or Without a Bag)

Dry hopping is a popular way of adding flavor and aroma to a beer after the initial brew. If it’s a method you’re considering trying out with your homebrew, you may be confused about where to start especially if you’re considering using pellets instead of whole hops.

To dry hop with pellets, introduce ½ to 1 ½ ounces of your chosen hops for every gallon to your beer in the second fermenter. Leave the pellets in the fermenter for at least 48-72 hours. To prevent clogging, put the hop pellets in a porous bag along with some weights. Once the brew is complete, thoroughly sanitize both the bag and the weights.

Keep reading to explore more options for dry hopping in various homebrewing situations.

Can you dry hop with pellets?

There are a few different options when it comes to dry hopping your beer. Dry hopping can be done with hop pellets, whole hops, or several other less common forms. These types can also be used in a couple of different ways. 

Dry hopping with pellets is just one option and even has plenty of variations on its own. You can dry hop with varying amounts of hops, with or without a bag, at various points in the brewing process, and for various lengths of time.

Types of hops used in dry-hopping:

  • Whole cone
  • Pellet
  • Plugs
  • Wet hops
  • Extracts
  • Powdered

There are even more options when you take into account the many varieties of hops.

The best way to dry hop with pellets is to put ½ to 1 ½ oz per gallon in a porous bag, such as a muslin bag, with weights in or on the bag. You’ll want to sanitize the weights and the bag to reduce the chance of infections.

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The best time to dry hop is anytime after primary fermentation has finished. You’ll want to put the bagged hops in either your primary or secondary fermenter.

Dry hopping during primary fermentation will have less of an effect due to the CO2 activity. It is still possible to dry hop at this point, but you will need more hops than if done later.

Using a bag is helpful when it comes to packaging your beer. Hop pellets tend to disintegrate after sitting in your brew for a while. The resulting hop mulch can clog your siphon tubes and end up in bottles.

How long should you dry hop with pellets

The length of time you dry hop with pellets ultimately depends on how much of a hop flavor you want in your beer.

On average, you will want to leave the dry pellets in for roughly 48 to 72 hours when dry hopping. This is the minimum amount of time for the full flavors and aromas to set into your beer.

You can keep your hops in longer, but you run the risk of your beer developing a grassy or oily taste. However, it will take a long time (in the range of 2-3 weeks) for this to occur.

If you take them out sooner, the hops will not have had enough time to fully affect the flavor. If all you are going for are hoppy hints this will work in your favor.

How do you dry hop with pellets in a carboy?

If you use a carboy you may be wondering how you’re supposed to stuff a bag full of pellets through the opening.

The cheapest and easiest option to dry hop in a carboy is to toss the pellets in loose which will result in extra cleaning. Another option is to buy carboy-specific containers which will allow you to dry hop without clogging your siphon.

Tossing the hop pellets in loose does require a little more patience when siphoning your beer. The pellets will dissolve and can gunk up your equipment.

Instead, you may want to purchase a dry hopping container specifically made for carboys. These can run for anywhere between $15 and $30 depending on the product.

How to dry hop without contamination

Sanitation is very important in order to avoid contamination and off-flavors. So how do you add the hop flavor you want with as little risk as possible?

The best way to dry hop without contamination is to keep up with routine cleaning. Any equipment that interacts with your beer should be properly cleaned and sanitized.

In general, you should use non-scented dish detergents for plastics, percarbonate cleaners for most metals, and a white vinegar plus hydrogen peroxide solution for brass.

For information about how to clean your homebrew equipment, check out these articles.

With dry hopping in particular you don’t have to worry about the hops as they are naturally antimicrobial. However, make sure to sanitize any hop containers you use in addition to your normal equipment.

How to dry hop with pellets using a hop bag

You’ll want to determine if you’ll be dry hopping your beer before you start the brewing process, but the pellets will not come into play until after the primary fermentation is completed.

To dry hop with pellets:

  1. Select a variety of hop pellets – Pick out which variety of hop pellets you like.
  2. Measure out your hops – Measure out enough for your batch. On average, you’ll need ½ to 1 ½ oz per gallon. Feel free to add more if you enjoy hops.
  3. Add the hops with your hop bag – Add the hops to your sanitized hop bag and weights. This can now be placed in your brew.
  4. Let sit for 48-72 hours – At this pont, it’s just a waiting game. Let your brew sit for at least 48 hours. The hops can be left in for as long as you want, but the longer they stay the higher chance there is for the beer to develop and oily or grassy taste.
  5. Remove the hop bag – After the hop flavors have fully settling in your beer, you can remove the hop bag.
  6. Package your beer – Package your beer as you see fit. Soon you’ll be able to enjoy a nice, dry-hopped brew!

The first two steps can be completed during primary fermentation but it is best to put the hop in after primary fermentation has finished.

Do you need a hop bag for pellets?

If you’re looking for ways to save a little money, you may wonder if the hop bag is really necessary. Hop bags can add up and the specially designed hop containers aren’t always cheap.

While it is easier to dry hop pellets with a hop bag, you definitely don’t have to. If you choose not to use a hop bag you’ll need to be careful when using a keg and siphoning your beer.

Hop pellets will dissolve when introduced to your brew and the residual hop mulch could get stuck in your equipment.

This method does have the benefit of reducing cost and cleaning time. Some hop bags can be reused while others can’t. Buying more every time adds up. Plus you don’t have to clean the bag and weights in addition to the rest of your equipment.

How to dry hop with pellets without a hop bag

Dry hopping using pellets without a hop bag is pretty similar to dry hopping with one, although you do need to take time to ensure none of the broken down hops clog your equipment or end up in your bottle.

To dry hop beer without a hop bag:

  1. Select a variety of hop pellets – Pick out which variety of hops you like.
  2. Measure out your hops – Just like when using a bag, you’ll need ½ to 1 ½ oz per gallon. Feel free to add more if you enjoy hops.
  3. Add your hops to your brew – Drop the pellets directly into your brew, but watch out for increased foaming. The hop pellets can begin to break apart almost immediately and cause a foamy reaction.
  4. Let sit for 48-72 hours – Wait at least 48-72 hours for the flavors to be absorbed. After a few days, the hop pellet sediment will settle on the bottom of your fermenter.
  5. Strain the hop matter – If you are siphoning the beer, proceed as normal, just be sure not to disturb the sediment. If you dry hop without a bag in a keg, you’ll need to get a bit more crafty to prevent the hops from clogging the dip tube. You can secure undyed (sanitized!) pantyhose to the intake side of your keg to act as a filter while your pour, or fit a mesh hop container around the dip tube (although this will require you to drill a hole into the top of your keg).
  6. Package your beer – Once you have filtered the hop out of your keg intake, you are ready to go! Ensure that you don’t get the sediment into your bottle as this can affect the final flavor (and texture) of your beer.

How do you strain the hop pellets?

The most important thing to remember about dry hopping with loose pellets is to ensure that as little hop residue as possible makes it into the final brew.

There are a couple of ways to prevent loose hops from entering your drink:

  • Siphon carefully
  • Attach a filter to the siphon
  • Attach a filter to the keg intake
  • Use a strainer

If you siphon your beer to rack it you should be able to avoid the bulk of the hop gunk by allowing it to settle at the bottom of your fermentor. After that, just be careful not to disturb the hops.

Siphoning may still lead to a small amount of hop sediment ending up in your drink. To decrease that likelihood use a filter on the intake of your siphon. An undyed pantyhose will work as will hop containers.

Kegging looks a little different but not by much. In this case, simply pick an above filter and attach it to the intake.

If you are pouring your beer from one container to another you can use a fine strainer. While the strainer will work, most homebrewers don’t recommend pouring your brew because it can over oxidize your beer, adding off-flavors.