What Is Dry Hopping?
So everyone knows brewers use hops in beer. The magical little cones, or their easier to store pellet counterparts, are essential to adding both bitterness and delightful aromas to all styles of beers. Some more so than others, but it’s safe to say they are one of the pillars on which the tower of beer stands.
It also probably warrants mentioning, because not all of us are homebrewers, how adding hops in different stages of the brewing process can change the bitterness and smell of beer.
Once the brewer has their wort (unfermented grain water) bubbling away under some pretty intense heat, it’s time to make the hop additions. Dumping a ton of hops in early in the boil will result in a higher bitterness in the final beer product. Hops that added later in the boil, say with 5 minutes left, or even at “flame out” will add to the nose of the beer without making your face pucker.
So here we arrive at our next subject – the process that forms meat and potatoes of hoppy, punchy aromas.
“As opposed to wet hopping?”
As opposed to calling it, “Post Fermentation Aroma Hop Addition.” You could call it PFAHA (the P is silent).
Dry hopping rolls off the tongue a bit better, and maybe they were originally referring to the beer being dry. By this point in the brewing process, the yeast has chowed most of the sugar and turned it into alcohol and co2. It’s a shot in the dark, but no one seems to remember where the name came from, and I don’t actually know everything about beer.
Brewers are quite choosey about which hops they use when dry hopping. Because they’re not trying to impart additional bitterness, the IBU (international bittering units) and Alpha acids are far less important than what aromas the hop variety is going to add to the final product.
Different hops have different smells. It sounds obvious, but unless you’ve spent time sticking your face in buckets of hops (guilty) then it’s hard to describe just how intensely different they can be.
Did you know there are entire books dedicated to hop profiles? Check out the brief breakdown of a couple varieties below.
Centennial is an aroma variety that was released in 1990. It was derived from three-quarters Brewer’s Gold with minor contributions from Fuggle, East Kent Golding and others. It is among the most popular varieties for US craft brewers and is sometimes referred to as Super Cascade.
Yield (kilos per hectare) 1,700 – 2,000
Yield (lbs per acre) 1,500 – 1,750
Alpha Acids 9.5 – 11.5%
Beta Acids 3.5 – 4.5%
Cohumulone (% of alpha acids) 29 – 30%
Total Oils (Mls. per 100 grams dried hops) 1.5 – 2.5
Myrcene (as % of total oils) 45 – 55%
Caryophyllene (as % of total oils) 5.0 – 8.0%
Humulene (as % of total oils) 10 – 18%
Farnesene (as % of total oils) < 1.0%
Storage (% alpha acids remaining after 6 months storage at 20° C) 60 – 65%
Possible Substitutions: Cascade, Amarillo
Glacier is a dual-purpose hop with well balanced bittering
properties and a pleasant aroma profile. It was released in
2000 from the Washington State University breeding program.
It is commonly used in beer styles such as Pale Ale,
ESB, Bitter, English-Style Pale Ale, Porter, and Stout.
Yield (kilos per hectare) 2,750 – 2,900
Yield (lbs per acre) 2,400 – 2,600
Alpha Acids 5.5%
Beta Acids 8.2%
Cohumulone (% of alpha acids) 11 – 13%
Total Oils (Mls. per 100 grams dried hops) 0.7 – 1.6
Myrcene (as % of total oils) 33 – 62%
Caryophyllene (as % of total oils) 6.5 – 10%
Humulene (as % of total oils) 24 – 36%
Farnesene (as % of total oils) < 1.0%
Storage (% alpha acids remaining after 6 months storage at 20° C) 72%
Possible Substitutions: Willamette
Time tables for dry hopping vary from beer to beer and depend on what you’re looking for as an end result. There are no, “10 days for IPA” or “never dry hop a stout” rules. It’s all up to the brewer, and what they’re trying to achieve.
So next time you’re drinking a King’s Blockhouse with your mates, you can take in a big nose full and say, “Wow, that Liberty sure is coming through. I wonder if they dry hop for 10 or 15 on this one?” Except we don’t use Liberty . . . and you’ll have no idea how long we dry hop . . . but your buddies probably won’t either.