Dry Hopping 101
To expand a little more on our hop series we wanted to talk about the “hot topic” when it comes to hops. dry hopping. It is a term that is thrown around a ton in the craft beer scene. We wanted to break down, what it is, what it does and the best way to do it.
What exactly is dry hopping?
To put it simply, Dry Hopping is the process of adding dried hops into your fermenting beer, usually during the later stages, also known as secondary fermentation. The term is believed to be derived from the dry hop plus that were added to barrels of beers in the early days of “commercial” English brewing. Dry hopping is what you do when you want the flavor and aroma from the hops but not the bitterness associated with adding hops in the boil.
Does the term dry-hopping refer exclusively to adding hops or can it also be other things? Like spices, fruit, etc? or is that something different?
Technically yes, BUT brewers use the term dry hopping to refer to adding all sorts of things to the secondary stage of fermentation. Chances are if you say “I am dry hopping with coffee beans” most homebrewers will understand what you mean.
Are there certain beers that are best for dry hopping?
Dry hopping is simply a technique that you can apply to any beer that you want. That being said, there are definitely styles that are synonymous with dry hopping. IPA’s are probably at the front of most people’s minds, specifically NEIPA’s and anything that identifies as “hazy”. But you can technically have a dry-hopped, “anything”.
What are some of the most popular hops to use for dry hopping and what beers would you pair them with?
For dry hopping, you will more than likely be selecting hops from the “Dual purpose/aroma” category. Some popular choices for dry hopping are Citra, centennial, cascade, Simcoe, Hallertau and tettnanger. Of course, there are MANY more than that available and it just really depends on what you are looking for. As far as pairing them with a beer style, personally I love to add aroma and dual-purpose hops to a good juicy NEIPA. At the end of the day you are the brewer and what you choose to dry hop is up to you.
When you are designing a recipe what are some of the go-to hops that you like to pick for dry hopping?
I think I have said this a million times but an old faithful for me is citra and simcoe. I love how the dank herbaceous character of simcoe, plays with the citrus of the citra hops. I also LOVE lemon drop hops, the lemon aroma hey give is truly delicious in citrus-forward beers.
Are you a hopsack or commando kind of brewer?
For me it really depends on what I am making and how much hops I am adding. Usually, my boil hops will go in sacked and my dry hops will go in commando. I like commando on a dry hop because it increases the surface area of the hops that get exposed to your brew, giving you more flavor and aroma IMO. Dry hopping commando also helps reduce the risk of infection because you are not adding a foreign body into your beer like a hopsack.
What are some tips that you could give someone who might be doing a dry hop for the first time?
Use fresh hops that smell good and haven’t been exposed to oxygen. This means if you have some oxidized hop pellets laying around, those are not what you would want to use to dry hop with. You also want to make sure you are dry hopping at the right time. Doing it too early may rob you of some of the finer aromas and flavors associated with your hop choice. We generally advise our brewers to dry hop no earlier than day 7 or 8 of fermentation. On heavily dry-hopped beers it can also be a good idea to perform something called a diacetyl rest. This prevents something called “hop creep” which is when your hops create a butter flavor in your beer. This rest is very easy to do on the Mr. Beer scale. Basically, it consists of raising fermentation temps a few degrees the last 2 days of the fermentation process. This gives the yeast the metabolic energy to clean up its own output. And last, Be creative! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different hops. Always start small if you are not sure how much to add. If you have never dry hopped before, .5 oz is a great amount to start with. Remember you can always add but you can’t take away.