All the Smells – An Intro to Dry Hopping

When it comes to hop additions in the brewing process, the technique of dry hopping (and especially double dry hopping, or DDH) has become a hallmark quality of making American IPAs. As we look to release DDH versions of our Art Car IPA, what exactly is dry hopping and what qualities does it add to your beer?

For starters, it’s good to know that hops can be added at multiple phases of the beer making process, and depending when hops are added, the hops will express different characteristics. In general, hops added at the beginning of the wort boil contribute mostly bitterness, hops added in the middle provide bitterness and a degree of aromatics, and hops added later primarily contribute aroma and flavor.

Dry hopping is done post-boil after the wort has been cooled and added to a fermentation vessel. Dry hopping is a technique used to up the ante on the wonderful aromatics and flavor hops provide. Dry hopping occurs in cask beers, as well as in fermentation and conditioning vessels. Most of the discussion here will be based on America’s influence on dry hopping, during and at the end of fermentation.

Historically, dry hopping would occur late in fermentation to allow brewers to harvest yeast and ferment a new batch of wort. Hops inherently have a preservative characteristic that is harmful to yeast’s health – this is why dry hopping occurs near the end. At Saint Arnold, we typically dry hop at 1° Plato from the beer’s ending gravity. We harvest yeast first, then dry hop. Dry hopping at fermentation temperature also speeds up extraction of hop oils, which create the flavors and aromas we love so much: Myrcene (spicy, herbal), gerianol (floral, rose-like), linalool (floral, citrusy, minty), limonene (oranges and lemons), and beta pinene (piney/woodsy).

What’s becoming more and more popular in recent years is dry hopping earlier and earlier into fermentation to take advantage of what’s called biotransformation. In short, biotransformation refers to when yeast interacts with hop compounds early in fermentation to create new aromatic and flavor compounds. We have applied this technique to Juicy IPA, Sabroconut Island, Noble Haze, and several others.

Beers that are dry hopped are commonly marketed using DH (dry hopped) and DDH (double dry hopped). This simply refers to how many times a dry hop step was used on a particular beer. A common practice for a DDH beer is to do an early hop addition at the beginning of fermentation and one near the end.

One struggle with dry hopping is the fleeting nature of the aroma and flavors. While wonderful and intense fresh, these aromas are the first to fade and can lose their punch after as little as three months time. This is one of the many reasons you will probably prefer to drink fresh IPA.

For our double dry hopped version of Art Car IPA, we hit our original recipe (that already receives a healthy dry hopping regiment of Amarillo, Simcoe and Mosaic) with an additional dry hop – using the experimental HBC-586 varietal and the popular Galaxy. Expect everything you love about Art Car IPA, with an extra punch of grapefruit and tropical notes. (Missed out on getting some this time around? Keep your eyes peeled for more DDH Art Car IPA releases in the near future.)

In general, if a beer is denoted as dry hopped, you should expect to experience a full bouquet of the best flavor and aroma hops have to offer.

Published July 23, 2020