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Hop flavor fading quickly

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by SenorHops, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. SenorHops

    SenorHops Savant (440) Rhode Island Aug 10, 2010

    Does anyone else have an issue with their flavor and aroma fading quickly? It seems that I'll brew an IPA and it tastes and smells amazing but that fades out within a couple of weeks (not months) leaving not a lot more than bitterness. This seems to be happening consistently, regardless of the recipe.

    I think I have been cooling my wort too quickly after throwing in my flame out additions, so I don't know if that's a factor. I also think a lot of my beers are over carbonated, but I'm not sure if that is driving things off. By the way, I bottle.

    Anyone else experience this? Any thoughts?
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    IMO Oxidation is the biggest/fastest hop flavor/aroma killer. My hops flavor/aromas became much more stable after I started kegging. I attribute it the the fact that I can purge the keg with CO2 before filling, and purge the headspace again after filling.
    nuggetman, mikehartigan and jlpred55 like this.
  3. cracker

    cracker Savant (405) Pennsylvania May 2, 2004

    This will happen no matter what. A few weeks seems too early though. Do you keep your bottles refrigerated after they carb up? This will slow down the beer's aging which you don't want to happen with an IPA.

    IMO over carbonation takes away the hoppy flavor and mouthfeel which could be part of your problem.
  4. SenorHops

    SenorHops Savant (440) Rhode Island Aug 10, 2010

    Yes. I immediately refrigerate after carbing for 2 weeks. The carbonation thing is strange too. I use corn sugar and according to "How to Brew", the appropriate amount of corn sugar for 5.5 gallons is 4.4 ozs., but that seems to be way to much. So I cut it back to 4.3 and that was too much, then to 4.2 and that was too much. The last batch I brewed I used 3.9 ozs. and even that tastes sharp and over carbed.
  5. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    Are you actually getting 5.5 gallons of beer into your bottling bucket? Or is 5.5 gallons your nominal 'batch size,' ending up with something less than 5.5 gallons making it into the bucket?
  6. SenorHops

    SenorHops Savant (440) Rhode Island Aug 10, 2010

    That varies a little. It's anywhere between 5 and 5.5 gallons that ends up in the bottling bucket.
  7. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    Okay. A half gallon shouldn't make much noticeable difference. Using your 3.9 ounces into an (assumed) 5 gallons, you should get right around 2.3 volumes of CO2, which is mid to high end for an Amercan IPA. You might try shooting for around 2 volumes, which would need about 3.3 oz of corn sugar into 5 gallons or about 3.4 oz into 5.5 gallons. (This is assuming the highest temperature your beer reached towards the end of fermentation or after fermentation was about 70F.)
  8. mattbk

    mattbk Savant (425) New York Dec 12, 2011

    Your problem is oxidation. In addition, the carbonation wait time is detracting from your shelf life. There's not much you can do about this from a perspective of bottling. If you are dry-hopping, do so only within the primary, any additional transfers to a secondary will only increase your oxygen pickup.
    mikehartigan likes this.
  9. SenorHops

    SenorHops Savant (440) Rhode Island Aug 10, 2010

    Thanks. I'm going to try that. Because I'm in RI, it's a bit chilly in the basement, so I've been fermenting and carbing my last couple of batches in the low to mid 60's.
  10. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (855) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009 Verified

    The lower temps will slightly change the amount residual CO2 already in your beer before you carbonate it, i.e. there will be more, which would be contributing to your overcarbing. Here's the calculator I used to use, which takes all of this into account...

  11. SenorHops

    SenorHops Savant (440) Rhode Island Aug 10, 2010

    Wow. That's a great calculator. I had no idea temp was a factor. Thanks.
  12. MLucky

    MLucky Savant (390) California Jul 31, 2010

    Are you using oxygen absorbing bottle caps? Some people say they also absorb hop aroma.

    As for cooling the wort: my sense of it is that this can have an impact on hop utilization of those flame-out/whirlpool hops, but I don't see any reason it would effect the longevity of hop aroma.
  13. +1 on oxidation. I had the same problem, even more so when I bottled beer for competition (evidently, my bottle filling procedure was less than ideal - I've since bought a beer gun). I once sent an over the top hoppy DIPA to a hop-centric competition that the judges commented had virtually no hop flavor or aroma (it had tons of both when I bottled it two weeks earlier).

    Gordon Strong wrote an article for one of the brewing magazines recently in which he talked about flaws. I thought I knew it all, but, in the section on oxidation, he described my problem exactly. It was almost eerie! Wet cardboard is not the only symptom (who knew? ;))

    I'd recommend that you review your bottling procedure.
  14. SenorHops

    SenorHops Savant (440) Rhode Island Aug 10, 2010

    I've tried them in the past, but noticed no difference, so I don't use them.
  15. SenorHops

    SenorHops Savant (440) Rhode Island Aug 10, 2010

    I guess so. The flavor certainly changes, but I can't say that carboard or sherry is a flavor I detect. I've often wondered if my bottling wand was a problem. I tilt the bottle, stick the wand down in the corner and begin to fill, but it always seem like I get a blast of air with bubbling and foaming at the beginning.
  16. ipas-for-life

    ipas-for-life Savant (435) Virginia Feb 28, 2012 Verified

    I've done a bunch of IPA's recently and have been using 4oz for right around 5 gallons and the carbonation has tasted right on. My only problem is I get very little head retention. I guess carbonation levels are subjective to personal tastes though.
  17. You are also exposing to air in the bottle if not purged with CO2.
  18. jmich24

    jmich24 Advocate (535) Michigan Jan 28, 2010 Verified

    My IPAs did not become great until I started kegging. Purging with CO2, keg hopping. Unfortunately kegging is an expensive answer.
    SenorHops likes this.
  19. mountsnow1010

    mountsnow1010 Savant (370) Vermont Jan 23, 2009

    On this note, can anyone speak to how effective oxygen absorbing caps are in terms of oxygen removal? I do recall having a conversation a month ago or so about how the liners can absorb hop aromatics...considering that, do they still help stabilize hoppy beers?
  20. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Savant (475) Utah May 2, 2006

    To the OP. Yep, I have experienced the fading hop character in highly hopped beers (I also bottle), also much sooner than I would like. As for carbonation level, this is my favorite calculator: http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugar-calculator/. I typically use about 116 grams of corn sugar for slightly over 5 gallons bottled. This gives a carbonation level that I like for most beers.
  21. “ …but it always seem like I get a blast of air with bubbling and foaming at the beginning.” There is no way of knowing with certitude but I highly suspect that this is the majority of your oxidation problem here. Hopfenunmaltz is correct that in the bottling process there is air in the bottle that the beer gets exposed to during filling but I am of the opinion that the bubbling/foaming at the beginning of the fill is your primary problem.

    I bottle my beers using a Phils Philler that I purchased from Listermann.com. I went to that website to see if they are still selling that product but I didn’t see it listed. The Phils Philler does an excellent job as a bottle filler. There is no bubbling/foaming at the initial filling of the bottles. My IPAs last months before there is significant hop fade (first the aroma and then later the flavor). I have had homebrewed bottled beers that have lasted well over a year before I have experienced signs of oxidation.

    It might be worthwhile to call Listermann at (513) 731-1130 (Dan Listermann has always been extremely helpful to me over the years) and see if he has any Phil’s Phillers just laying around that he would be willing to sell to you. Just tell him that Jack sent you; just kidding!!

    The other alternative is to consider ‘upgrading’ to kegging. Kegging is not an option for me since at any given time I could have over a dozen batches of homebrewed beer sitting around and I am not willing to purchase that many kegs.


    P.S. Needless to say but another option is to just drink up your IPAs real fast!!;)