FWH, opinions and such

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Smokebox_79, Jun 18, 2013.

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  1. Smokebox_79

    Smokebox_79 Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Just started to first wort hop some beers and I'm wondering what everyone thinks about it. If they do it all the time, some of time, or for specific styles or specific hops that work great for it.
  2. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (294) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I do it routinely with my bittering hops. Not because I'm sold on the technique, but just because I have a minute, so I throw them in. A couple of the more seasoned members of my brew club swear by it, which seems to add some credibility, at least for me. I'm not sufficiently intrigued to pay that close attention to what it does - my beers all taste pretty much as expected, so it doesn't seem to hurt the bitterness, which is all I'm shooting for at that point. If it affects the flavor or the aroma, it's likely subtle.

    That's my take on it.
    barfdiggs and Smokebox_79 like this.
  3. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (1,228) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I do it some of the time, mainly just for Pales and IPA's obviously..

    Any hop works, I've found. I'm sure someone will come in and claim you need to use lower AA hops or something like that for FWH because of the levels of certain oils, and such.

    Use what you like.. Some claim it's a 20min addition in terms of bitterness, I don't really see it that way other than maybe to soothe your soul for calculating your IBU's, but it does lend a smoother bitterness, I just don't think that smooth, equals less in terms of actual bitterness like some want to believe.

    I just use whatever I planned to hit at 60 or 90.. Chinook is nice, and Columbus is good.. Magnum is just as well.. I used Citra just this past weekend on my Zombie Dust.
    MLucky and Smokebox_79 like this.
  4. Smokebox_79

    Smokebox_79 Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 Pennsylvania

    The few I tasted with FWH do seem to smooth the sharpness of the hop bitterness. Just wanted to ask my cohorts here on BA! A friend of mine used a 10% AA Centennial as a FWH in a CDA and it was fantastic! I heard 4% to 9% is best to use for it, But that 10% was damn fine!
  5. oach

    oach Aspirant (264) Jul 8, 2009 Illinois
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I try to do FWH as often as possible. I have found the bitterness to be smoother with more lingering flavor/aroma making it into the final beer. My understanding is to treat the addition the same as a 20 minute "normal" hop addition in terms of the bitterness that it supplies to the beer (if you are using some software/application).

    My next stop is hop stand to see what more/extra I can get from it in a hoppy beer.
  6. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    I think you've got it reversed... some claim its like a 20 minute addition in terms of flavor (a la Gordon Strong).

    Lab tested FWH beers have a higher IBU level than an equivalent addition at the start of the boil (e.g. a 90 minute addition will have less IBU than a FWH beer used in a 90 minute boil).

    The alpha acid level doesn't matter, it'll work regardless of alpha acid percentage. You may get different perceptions of bitterness depending on cohumulone levels, but thats another can of worms.

    FWH is really a way to make sure you don't forget your bittering addition, and to get the maximal IBUs (Just talking straight up lab determined IBUs, not perceived bitterness) from your hop addition.

    Some will claim you get hop flavor from it, but in personal experience (I FWH all of my beers) you get very little in flavor, unless you're using a hop that is very pungent and strong. For example I've used Apollo as a FWH (only addition in beer) and have been able to pick up its character in the finished beer, whereas with almost every other hop I've used (all my beers that don't feature hops as a prominent character are FWH only) doesn't come through at all in the flavor department.

    One other, preemptive thing, I'm sure some asshat will cite the infamous German paper on FWH and claim FWH provides more flavor and aroma because a tasting panel found the FWH beers to be "more pleasing", so for that person, if you look at the actual GC/LC-MS measurements of the hop aroma component profile of the beers in that paper, the non-FWH beers actually have higher levels of hop aroma compounds and essential oils, e.g. the shit that actually matters for aroma and flavor.
    kneary13, wspscott and sergeantstogie like this.
  7. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2006 New York

    The adjectives used in that study to describe the hop flavor/aroma of the FWHed beers were "unobtrusive" and "harmonious", and somehow people have taken that to mean that FWHing provides increased hope aroma/flavor. Furthermore, as you've stated, chemical analysis of the FWHed beers shows decreased aromatic compounds (and increased IBUs) when compared to the control beers. There seems to be a disconnect, IMO, between both the objective and subjective evidence provided in that study, and what homebrewers claim FWHing provides.

    FWIW, FWHing was developed by German brewers as a way to increase bittering utilization.
    nozferatu46, wspscott and barfdiggs like this.
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,935) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Boy, I am reticent to post on this particular thread since things got very ‘interesting’ on the previous thread entitled “FWH in an IPA”.

    To demonstrate that I lack sense, I will post below what I posted in the previous thread:

    “Gordon Strong claims "However I do find a huge hop flavor contribution from FWH. The flavor I get is higher than an equivalent 20 minute addition."

    Greg Koch claims "slight increases in IBU, Flavor and aroma" from FWH.

    Matt Brynildson states: “First Wort Hopping is a method to deliver additional hop flavor complexity to beer.

    Al Korzonas states: My experience with first wort hopping is that it contributes less bitterness than hops added after the boil has started, adds a small hop aroma and an incredible amount of hop flavor.”

    Now, it is important that everybody read this:

    · I personally have never used FWH in my homebrewing so I have zero personal opinion on this matter

    · If there is disagreement with any of the above quotes, they should be directed to Gordon Strong, Greg Koch, or whoever.

    geocool likes this.
  9. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Initiate (0) Dec 20, 2006 New York

    Nice use of appeal to authority.

    "Authority A says blank, therefore blank is true, if you disagree then take it up with A, not me."

    Did I sum that up well enough?
    sergeantstogie likes this.
  10. NiceFly

    NiceFly Aspirant (275) Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

    And he is back.
  11. telejunkie

    telejunkie Disciple (314) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    I tried a beer with a large does of FWH as the only hop addition in boil, then split it so one side got dry hopped only and the other no additional treatment. This was back in day when FWH & Rock Bottom's experiment were "rewriting" how we use hops. I can say unequivocally that among the panel, that no tasters got really any perceptible hop flavor or aroma when tasted against bud light for the beer with FWH only. Iirc I used chinook in that beer.
  12. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    I've been using FWH on some beers. I'm not totally convinced, still experimenting.

    One potential negative for me, at least so far, is that it is more difficult to estimate bitterness when formulating a recipe than more traditional boil additions. I think most people agree that we get less perceived bitterness out of a FWH addition than we get from an equal hop addition at the beginning of the boil? But how much less? I have to admit I don't have a clear handle on that, but maybe that'll come as I continue to tinker with it.

    Also: I can't help but wonder, if FWH is in fact the best way to utilize bittering hops, why did people start waiting until the beginning of the boil to add them? Seems obvious they wouldn't. Make of that what you will.
  13. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (294) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    sounds like an argument against experimentation and innovation. One can only imagine a naysayer opining, centuries ago, 'If adding this strange, odiferous weed (hops) to beer would improve its flavor and shelf life, why haven't they been adding them for thousands of years?' Seems obvious they would have. Make of that what you will.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  14. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (1,228) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    See, thats the issue I have.. Where or how do you accurately calculate it?

    I've always assumed and set up my FWH on Beersmith to just default to whatever length of boil I have going. I recently changed it to assume that it was a 20min addition when I did a ZD clone that I saw where someone said to calculate it as 20min worth of bitterness.

    I think it's horse shit, as then your IBU's are theoretically what you perceive, not calculated.

    Then again, I also think we're not exact anyways, so it's all a ballpark guess.
  15. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    I’m pretty sure that whenever somebody proposed adding hops to beer for the first time, that’s probably the exact reaction he got. But then people tasted the beer, and it was good. And most people agreed hops were better than spruce branches or whatever they’d been using, and over the course of a relatively short period of time hops became the standard bittering agent for pretty much everybody who could get them. Usually, when somebody comes up with a way to make better beer, word gets around pretty fast.
    So I’m asking: why didn’t a similar process occur with FWH? Anybody got an answer?
    One possibility would be that throughout hundreds of years of hop-based bittering, nobody ever thought of it. That seems unlikely.
    So assuming it was tried, why didn’t it become standard practice? Especially if it really did offer better utilization and smoother hop flavor? That just doesn’t make sense.
  16. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (294) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Define a 'relatively short period of time' for a 5,000+ year old activity without an internet. Particularly in the shadow of Reinheitsgebot, CAMRA, and likely countless other roadblocks to change something that had served us well for thousands of years. My point is, FWH is a new, somewhat controversial practice with seemingly dubious benefit for some, and with seemingly stellar results for others. I wouldn't be surprised if many of those who say it's ineffective have never tried it, basing their opinion solely on conventional wisdom ("we know everything there is to know about extracting bitterness, therefore, you're wasting your time"). Hops were 'discovered' because someone dared to break with tradition. It likely took years, perhaps hundreds of years before their currently known properties were quantified and anything resembling a hop schedule was even conceived, let alone tweaked to maximize bitterness, flavor, and aroma (hardly an intuitive process). Maybe we simply haven't yet figured out how to effectively exploit the benefits of FWH. Maybe our grandchildren will eventually scratch the surface.

    And maybe it's a bunch of hooey.
  17. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,386) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    For anyone who wants to test whether FWH provides a bitterness level equal to a 20 minute addition, here's an experiment... Take a recipe that has only a 60 minute addition and brew it. Now brew it again, but replace the 60 minute addition with a FWH, with 165% the amount of hops. Per the Tinseth calcs, if FWH = 20 minutes, these beers should have the same bitterness.

    I won't be doing this myself. I already have too much in the backlog.
  18. Smokebox_79

    Smokebox_79 Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 Pennsylvania

    i was gonna ask if someone had brewed the exact same batch with only changing the 20 min to FWH. Had no idea I'd start such a quandary here!
  19. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (1,228) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    If you like the activity, might I suggest the next thread be.. "Glass or Plastic?"
    NiceFly, mikehartigan and Smokebox_79 like this.
  20. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,386) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I think changing a 20 minute addition to FWH (within a typical multi addition recipe) would not be the cleanest way to go, because you'd still have other hop additions, whose bitterness contributions could overwhelm the senses. The 20 minute/FWH additions' signals could be lost in the other additions' noise. I think the way to go is to go big, with single additions.
  21. Smokebox_79

    Smokebox_79 Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Quandry.... NOT ALL OUT WAR!!
  22. Smokebox_79

    Smokebox_79 Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Guess I should've been more specific. A single hop addition would be best of course.
  23. honkey

    honkey Aspirant (265) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    I have done it one time where I brewed a SMaSH beer that only used a FWH addition. I used 3 oz of Amarillo. There was a medium to strong flavor contribution from the hop and there was less bitterness than I would expect from a 3 oz addition at 60 minutes. Although, "less" bitterness could have just been less perceived bitterness due to the smoother bittering qualities.
    Smokebox_79 likes this.
  24. ditch

    ditch Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2009 Virginia

    I only FWH if my only other addition is at Flash Out. Why? I have no idea. But it seems to work. Mainly, if I'm doing an IPA I don't add any hops until the last 10 min. Assloads of hops! Both of these work for me.
    Smokebox_79 likes this.
  25. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    It's not new. I was pretty sure that somewhere in the more than 1,000 years of hop use, somebody must have thought of dropping them into the kettle before the boil, and a little googling reveals that to be true. In fact, it apparently was used by many commercial brewers 100 years ago, and I'm guessing it goes back quite a bit farther than that. So this isn't really a case of daring innovative brewers versus people who resist change. It's another example of how things run in cycles: FWH was a commonly accepted practice, it fell out of favor, now some are returning to it.
  26. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I recently assisted Jeff Renner brew a CAP. He uses FWH. One thing that was a little different was that he has the FWH in the wort for at 170F +/- 10F for a full hour. The beer was fly sparged, and we had enough time for lunch when the sparge was done.
  27. telejunkie

    telejunkie Disciple (314) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    interesting...i think one area that is still very gray is something I would call the "soaking in" of the hop oils at off-boil temps which still surround hot hop stands and could potentially translate to fwh. My single experience said otherwise, but there are x number as many more credible folks that say my test isn't indicative.
  28. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Something I will try in the future, that 60 minutes at ~170F.
  29. nozferatu46

    nozferatu46 Initiate (142) Mar 24, 2008 Indiana

    I tried FWH on a few beers. From my experience... it just increases bitterness. I did it with a beer that was similar to another beer I brewed that didn't use FWH.
  30. CASK1

    CASK1 Disciple (334) Jan 7, 2010 Florida

    Here is a pretty thorough description of the process as used traditionally, and what it's supposed to contribute to the beer.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  31. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    The excerpt below might be your disconnect. I think most people don't read the article and instead read this guy's summary of the article (http://brewery.org/library/1stwort.html). Another example of perversion by not reading the source material:

    5. Analytical results--aroma: For the aroma compounds, very distinct differences were measured (gas chromatography) in both the identities and concentrations of the various aromatic compounds between the FWH beers and the reference beers. Because the precise nature of the effects of aromatic compounds on beer flavor are very complicated, it cannot be said with certainty just why the various measurements resulted in the overwhelming tasting preference, but clearly something is going on here. Even though the reference beers had higher *absolute amounts* of most of the aroma compounds, again the FWH beers got higher ratings for overall pleasure.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  32. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    In my experience, FWH contributes significant hop flavor, and the perceived bitterness level is equivalent to that of a 20 min. addition. Yes, the lab measured IBU's will be higher (so I hear), but that is not the same thing as perceived bitterness.
  33. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (294) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Damn, how I wish there was a way to quantify the 'perceived' part! It would make brewing so much easier.
    Smokebox_79 likes this.
  34. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

    Blame the diversity of odorant and taste receptors in people for it being unquantifiable. F*cking neurobiology.
  35. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Aspirant (267) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    Don't they teach that at Whatsamatta U.?

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