Do I need to use a hop sack when adding hops to my beer?

One of the common questions that we hear a lot is about if you should use a hopsack when adding hops to your beer.

On our answer as with most things is, it depends!

Depending on the recipe you are brewing we will have you use or not use a hopsack at certain stages of the process and there is a reason behind that.

When we have you use a hop sack, it is usually because there is a large number of hops that you are adding to the beer. If you put in a large number of hops with no hop sack during bottling time those hops can clog the spigot which can make it difficult to fill your bottles.

Another reason is when you are mixing different hops together, it is often just easier to group them into a hopsack. We have certain recipes where you will mix ½ a packet of a few different hops together.

If you do happen to find yourself in a situation where you add hops without a hop sack and you are concerned that it might clog the spigot if you give the beer a nice cold crashing that will help everything solidify to the bottom. When doing this prop up the front of the fermenter slightly which will help the sediment settle away from the spigot.

Now, when we have you not use a hopsack there are also a few reasons behind that.

The first is if you are just adding a packet or two or three you don’t need the hop sack and it just adds an extra step that is not needed. Plus if you are dry hopping using a hopsack you need to make sure you sanitize your hopsack. So adding that hopsack adds an extra element to deal with and is another variable that can lead to an infection if it is not properly sanitized.

Also, if you go back to a video we did on bittering hops the greater surface area the hops have, the more bitterness you can extract from those hops. So when doing a hop boil just tossing the hops in with no hop sack can help you get more bitterness in your beer.

Alright, so those are the reasons why we have you add or not add a hopsack during brewing. Always remember to sanitize your hopsack if you are dry hopping or not adding it to a hot liquid. If you are concerned about getting a clogged spigot during bottling give it a little cold crash and that will help all that sediment solidify.

Quick side note always leave the hop sack in your brew unless we call for you to remove it.