In the craft beer industry, there are a multitude of adjectives being used to describe these continuously changing styles. Hazy, Juicy, Mild, Smoothie, Barrel-Aged – but none so deliciously exciting for me personally as Dry-Hopped! While it’s most popular in use for IPAs and Pale Ales, we are beginning to see it being experimented in other styles and are challenging our palettes in the process as beer consumers. Seeing DDH (double dry-hopped) on a can or bottle makes my mouth water with anticipation!
Like any introduction of hops, the muck or sediment before packaging does get removed from the beer, and it’s all about what you want out of the hops you choose! Something extraordinary about adding the dry hopping process is the ability to introduce a secondary profile in aroma; think about a beer you’ve had that’s citrus and tropical in taste but smells more earthy or piney – these combinations can become more forward through dry-hopping! All hops have their distinct characters, and mixing them, like adding different spices into your favorite dish, can allow for creativity and new variety within a style.
Dry hopping itself is the process of adding additional hops in between fermentation and packaging. The term (yes technically all hops get wet in brewing) came from the fact that the hops are introduced into the fermented ale but not boiled in the wort like the hops in the whirlpool. The best part of dry hopping is that none of the volatile oils from the hops are boiled off so the brewer can extract a ton of extra flavor and aroma into their beer.
This process can be done in a few different ways as well; one can use either hop leaf or pellets, and either do them loose in the beer or contained in a nylon bag or even metal cylinder (think brewing tea). Regardless of your preferred process, the main goal is to connect these hops for a time between 2 to 3 days to your fermented beer to get that extra oomph you’re craving! As a brewer, you may worry about the downside to dry hopping, but there’s only the quality of time control in between. Going longer won’t necessarily increase the aroma further, but won’t hurt the beer either unless you have to stall packaging longer than 2 to 3 weeks and can run the risk of developing off-flavors.
One of our latest beers here at Helton, pairing up with our friends at Helio Basin, used the process of dry hopping to create a floral, hoppy Pilsner! Yes, we love our Valley Venom and always will, but experimenting is where the fun can happen, and a beautiful new beer is born! “Passing Time Pilsner” was brewed with Warrior, Centennial, and Azacca hops and finished with a dry hop of more Azacca to give it an earthy, floral, light, and crisp taste with a dry finish. Sitting at 5.2% and 30 IBUs, it’s perfect for this summer heat to refresh your palette!
Next time you’re shopping at your favorite bottle shop or brewery, take a look for “DH” on the label and give it a whirl – the number of flavor combinations is endless, and brewers all over are showing their creativity through dry-hopping!
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