I know that you’ve seen these buzzwords emblazoned across cans and bottles in your local beer spot many times. In fact, I am confident that you are seeing more “wet hop” and “fresh hop” beers at this time because the hop harvest season just finished. Let’s unpack what the big deal is.
“Hop” Beers vs. “Hopped” Beers
I continue to see and hear “fresh hopped”, “wet hopped,” and “dry hopped” used side by side, so when I set out to get smart about hops, I assumed they were all processes for hopping your beer. Incorrect. Only dry hopping is a process.
So, if you want to get this right, there are fresh hop beers, wet hop beers, and dry hopped (or double dry hopped) beers.
- Fresh & wet hop beers are beer that contain fresh or wet hops. (hop as noun)
- Dry hopped beers are beers that have had a hop addition after the boil – they are named after the process of dry hopping. (hop as verb)
(Please, feel free to now correct people who are confusing the bejesus out of all of us by saying “fresh hopped” and “wet hopped” – k thanks.)
Fresh & Wet Hop Beers
Late August through September mark the hop harvest, when all those delicious hop cones are processed for the year. This is the beginning of the flood of fresh and wet hop beer releases.
Not that it would ever be an issue for an enthusiastic hop fan, but fresh and wet hop beers are meant to be enjoyed as soon as possible since the beer inside expires quickly. All the flavor and aroma those luscious cones impart can begin to break down.
Both fresh and wet hop beers are brewed during or very shortly after the harvest season to capture the aroma and flavor of the hop at its peak. The Brewers Association Style Guidelines define fresh or wet hop beer as beer “hopped predominantly with fresh (newly harvested and kilned) and/or undried (‘wet’) hops.” Fresh and wet hops are said to impart “green or chlorophyll-like” aroma and flavor to the finished beer.
Wet hops = newly harvest & unkilned hops; picked from the bine and placed in the kettle within 24 hours – brewers often have to have them overnighted
Fresh hops = newly harvest & kilned hops; picked from the bine and placed in the kettle within the week
Dry Hopped & Double Dry Hopped Beers
Hops are usually added during the boil to draw out the alpha acids that give that bitter hop flavor. Brewers might also use hops during the last 5-10 minutes of the boil to enhance aroma, though this technique can still cause you to lose aromatic oils.
Dry hopping means adding hops after the boil and after fermentation. Its purpose is to boost hop aroma without also boosting hop bitterness. Hop bitterness tends to emerge when hops are added during the boil, as the aromatics and oils are breaking down. When dry hopping, hops are left to soak in the finished beer for several days to several weeks. As for which hops to use? That’s another blog altogether.
Double dry hopped beer, often labeled with “DDH” tends to be a bit more ambiguous in its definition. Double dry hopping can mean either that a beer has been dry hopped twice (in two “charges”) or hopped with twice as many hops. Even if a brewery does not offer a single dry hopped version of a beer, DDH can be a descriptor when they double the quantity of hops per barrel that they would use for a single dry hopped beer.
Now that these terms are straight, go forth and select new hoppy releases with confidence. You’ll sound smart, and you’ll know what sort of hop aroma and flavor to expect.