The key here is reducing o2 exposure, which is something that's very difficult to control when you're not kegging. It’s not only about the beer being fresh, cold storage and keeping the beer away from o2 are keys to preserving and maximizing your hop aroma. We've all picked up an old poorly store IPA at the store that tastes like carboard, its miserable. This is why I cringe when I see people racking to secondary in a glass carboy and dumping in some loose pellets. You might get a decent short term result but the beer is going to drop off a cliff quickly after being exposing to that much o2.
|Pushing sanitizer from one keg (dry hopping keg) to the next (serving keg), sanitizing my racking equipment|
in the process. The outsides of the tubing don't touch the beer, fret not.
Get started by cleaning and sanitizing your kegs using whatever methods you employ, the second (serving) keg won’t be used until the dry hop is done but you should have it ready ahead of time. Tie some unflavored dental floss to the drawstring of your nylon hop bag and boil the bag and a few pieces of stainless (they are used as weights so the bag doesn’t float in the keg) for a few minutes to clean and sterilize, then soak it all in Star-San to sanitize.
|Plenty of space in this bag to fit 6oz with room to spare.|
Fill the nylon hop bag with all of your dry hops and the stainless weights then suspend it in your dry hop keg with the dental floss tied to one of the keg posts. The floss is thin enough that the keg O-ring can still make an airtight seal and yet strong enough to handle the weight of the bag and its contents. With the bag suspended in the dry hop keg, seal it up and purge with co2 sufficiently leaving a bit of head pressure to ensure a tight seal. I rack the beer to the keg using a similar process as the Brulosphy method but the beer is pushed via co2 into the keg through a ball lock disconnect connected to the beer out post for a fully closed system transfer. I push co2 into the headspace of the Better Bottle (I would never do this with glass, but do pressurize my Speidel and BB's) then pull the pressure relief pin on the dry hop keg and watch the beer flow. Once the keg is full you can purge it again to be sure and pressurize, then store at room temp (68-72F) for 5 days.
|You can kind of see the dental floss tied to the post, hanging in there is the tied off bag.|
|This setup works decently well, sometimes the orange cap doesn't make a great seal so I have to wire|
tie it tight. This was a 100% Brett IPA by the way. This is the part you need to crew in the co2 line,
I also have a tailpiece connected.
|Transferring in a closed system, minimizing o2 exposure prior to dry hop.|
|Sanitizing the jumper while emptying the serving keg of the sanitizer.|
If you want to simplify this even more you can actually forgo the transfer to the serving keg and leave the dry hops in the keg for the duration of that beer's life. So long as you suspend the bag high enough that once you have drank a gallon or more the bag is suspended above the beer and no longer in contact with it, it shouldn't be an issue. I have a few friends who use this method and their beers are great, based on older posts I think Mike Tonsmeire leaves the bag inside as well. For me though I like to remove the hops to be safe in case I need to move the keg and something ends up getting clogged or caught in the dip tube. Not to mention I'll need to own 3-4 dry hop bags as I will always have them tied up in kegs since my beers stay on tap for 2-3 months.
Hoppy beers like HopWards and Riverwards IPA are so heavily reliant on the late hop and dry hop aroma that care needs to be taken to maximize it. Whether you perform that final transfer or not I assure you this process will take your hoppy beers to the next level, especially with the shaking. However you go about it, be gentle with the transfers and keep the o2 exposure at a minimum.
|Close up of the jumper while the beer is being transferred. Serving keg in the foreground, dry hop keg in the back.|