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Sad Day for a Black Double IPA


Grandmaster Brewer
Jul 6, 2012
Reaction score
Plain City, OH
Well, my first attempt at a Double IPA - a black one no less - went very well up to the point I decided to check the carbonation level. After sitting in the kegerator at 12 psi for about a week, I pulled a few ounces into my glass, stuck my nose in and gave it a good sniff and took a sip, and that's when it hit me!

This was my first attempt at the style and also my first attempt at keg-hopping. In addition to 2 separate massive hop charges - one in the primary and another in the secondary -  I stuffed 2 ounces of whole-leaf hops, Simcoe and Cascade, into a nylon sock and tossed in a few 1-inch stainless steel ball-bearings to keep it on the bottom of the keg figuring it'll just slowly dry-hop during the 2 or 3 weeks of pulling pint after pint. I'd heard about this method and wanted to try it myself.

If it wasn't bad enough the Simcoe came across with a very heavy cat-pee aroma, the kicker was the ballast used to keep the sock on the bottom. In case you missed it the first time; I said Stainless Steel ball-bearings, thinking this'll be nice and sanitary and should do the trick without risking any kind of infection.

Most folks I've heard from on the topic of keg-hopping-in-a-sock use a handful of marbles (you know who you are...) but I already had these nifty stainless steel ball-bearings in stock. Trouble was, because they were ball-bearings, they were hardened meaning they were made of a higher carbon/lower chromium stainless steel (not very corrosion-resistant) and reacting to a low pH they quickly turned black. The worst part was that first taste. I was devastated. It smelled like cat-pee and tasted like steel. Crap!

It received a short service and a burial fit for a goldfish, the hop-sock was retrieved, keg cleaned, another moment of silence, then back to the drawing board. And the toy store to get some marbles. Glass ones!

Lesson learned: Do NOT use stainless steel ball bearings in your beer - EVER!!
I did a similar except I used stainless steel wire that was not so stainless steel.  I choked down half a keg before calling it quits.

Thanks for the tip Phil.  Sorry about your beer.  I was about to do the same thing this weekend with the ball bearings.  Marbles are ridiculously hard to find these days. None at Walmart or ToysRus, at least in my town.  I wish I saved all the crystal bonkers I won as a kid!  Looked at the pet store and they sell cheap glass beads for aquarium decorations.  Hope these are OK.