Monday 21 February 2022

How to Dry Hop in a FermZilla All Rounder

The FermZilla All Rounder is a relatively simple, yet versatile pressure capable plastic fermenter. It's popularity is largely due to it's simple design, especially in comparison to it's more complicated brother, the FermZilla Conical.

This means that when it comes to dry hopping your beer your options are somewhat limited. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though - sometimes the simplest way is the best way.

We've tried doing dry hopping by removing one of the carbonation caps on the lid of the FermZilla, but found the hole just isn't big enough for the hop pellets to fall through easily, causing them to clog the hole that then needs to be cleared by either poking them through the hole, or gently shaking the fermenter. Neither option is particularly ideal. KegLand even have a ball valve attachment that can connect to one of these PCO1881 threads on the lid of the FermZilla. The theory behind this contraption is great, but the general consensus among veteran All Rounder users is the same. It just doesn't work and it clogs as the hole just isn't big enough.

When it comes to dry hopping in your FermZilla All Rounder, we'd recommend using one of the following two methods;

1. Unscrew the lid and add the dry hops via the main opening at the top of the fermenter.

As mentioned above, sometimes the easiest way really is the best way. Brewers in general have two major fears - oxidation and infection. We get it - opening the lid of your fermenter can be scary and nerve racking - it opens you up to both of these potential issues that can quickly ruin your batch of beer. In our experience though, it just doesn't happen. Especially if you're careful.

If you're fermenting your beer under pressure, bleed all the pressure by pulling the pressure release valve (PRV), or alternatively open your spunding valve for a more gentle method of slowly releasing the pressure. Note that pulling the PRV and causing a rapid drop in pressure can cause a krausen 'volcano' that causes the krausen to rise suddenly and aggresively, sometimes all the way to the lid opening. So if you're dry hopping during active fermentation we'd recommend gently bleeding the pressure using your spunding valve to try and avoid this. Once you've bled all the pressure, (or if you're not fermenting under pressure), remove the lid and sit it to the side of the opening (see the video below for an example). We can reduce the risk of any contamination by not removing the lid and dip tube completely.

Remember, carbon dioxide (CO2) which is produced during active fermentation is more dense than regular air/oxygen, so it will naturally settle to the bottom as a 'blanket' of CO2 sitting on top of your fermenting beer acting as a layer of protection. If you don't move your fermenter there is no reason why this air would be disturbed.

Dry Hopping in the FermZilla All Rounder

Pour your hops in via the top and re fit the lid. As another layer of protection we can then apply some CO2 pressure back into the fermenter then 'burp' it a few times by quickly pulling the PRV. Remember, CO2 is more dense than oxygen so carbon dioxide will settle to the bottom and any trace amounts of oxygen will be at the top and will be vented via the PRV when you pull it. Repeat this 2-3 times and you're set.

This is the method we've used many times for dry hopping our beers, and we have never had any issues with oxidation or infection.

2. Attach a hop sock (or similar) to the inside of the fermenter (above the fermenting beer) and secure with magnets

This isn't a method we've used ourselves, however if you insist on not wanting to open your fermenter to dry hop then this option is for you.

Before filling your fermenter with wort, or immediately after filling (and before fitting the lid), place your dry hops into a hop sock along with a magnet (make sure you sanitise the magnet and use a food safe option to avoid any contamination/off flavours from being introduced).

Place the hop sock on the inside wall of the fermenter as high towards the opening as possible and secure with another magnet on the outside of the fermenter (to hold it in place).

When you're ready to dry hop, simply remove the magnet from the outside of the fermenter which will cause the hop sock to drop into your fermenting beer. 

Have you dry hopped in your All Rounder using one of these methods, or is there another method you prefer to use? Let us know in the comments below.

Update - 14/3/22 

KegLand have developed and will soon be releasing a "Hop Bong" that can be used for oxygen free dry hopping in your FermZilla All Rounder. Check out our blog post on the Hop Bong - what it is, how it works and what else you'll need to go with it for dry hopping in your FermZilla All Rounder

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  1. I have the ball valve thing, and I used it once. It's a pain in the neck. Now I use the magnet method. Works like a charm!

    1. I've seen videos of people trying to use the ball valve and basically having to shake the fermenter to get all the hops through!

      What magnets did you use? I'd like to try this method but need to make sure they're food safe to obviously ovoid any funky flavours leeching into the beer from them...