Gowanus Brewery

Too Late to Dry Hop by Jeremy
December 5, 2007, 12:00 am
Filed under: chinook, hops, ipa

Apparently it never is.

I was flipping through my Beer in Blogs feed and happen to read a post that casually mentioned adding dry hops to beer at the same time you move it to secondary. This is known as “dry hopping”. As I said, I forgot to do this step with the Chinook IPA, but, even two weeks after moving to secondary, I think it may not be too late. I’ll throw those bad boys in tonight.

I love to catch a break every now and then.

Over at Brew Your Own there is an in-depth article from 2003 on dry hopping that answers all the basic questions that have loomed in my mind for the past several weeks and several others that never occurred to me. For instance, I didn’t realize dry hopping was such a broad term: “[d]ry hopping refers to any hop addition after the wort has been cooled.” To learn just that a beer has been dry hopped, actually tells you little about the dry hopping process.

The most important part of the article for my purposes describes the underlying purpose of dry hopping:

Due to the fact that no volatile oils are boiled off, the benefit to dry hopping is that the brewer can get as much flavor and aroma possible into the final beer… What dry hopping does not add to the beer is bitterness. Boiling is necessary to convert the alpha acids in the hops to iso-alpha acids to create bitterness.

In other words, the purpose of dry hopping is to infuse hops’ essential oils to the wort, which adds a floral aroma, without increasing its bitterness.

Dry hopping will still affect flavor, if not by adding bitterness. The BYO article says that dry hopping adds “grassy” or “oily” flavors and warns this may be a drawback. I assume whatever affect this has on flavor, it must be strong and distinct to warrant the warning. I will try to cover this when I review my Chinook IPA.

The other topic that interested me was choosing hops. Personally, I’ve come in contact with fewer than 10 varieties of hops, but I know there dozens, if not hundreds out there. Here, unfortunately, the article is not especially clear:

It is common for these hops to have relatively low alpha acid ratings, often around 6% or less… Of course, one of the beauties of homebrewing is that you do not have to follow anyone’s suggestions; you can try whatever you want. This being said, some homebrewers dry-hop with high alpha acid varieties like Centennial and Chinook.

Confusingly, it recommends choosing hops with low or high alpha acid ratings, suggesting at least that hops’ alpha acids content may be relevant. The Wikipedia article on hops discusses alpha acids and leads me to believe that the alpha acid rating is probably irrelevant:

The degree of bitterness imparted by hops depends on the degree to which otherwise insoluble alpha acids (AAs) are isomerized during the boil, and the impact of a given amount of hops is specified in International Bitterness Units. Unboiled hops are only mildly bitter.

So, there you have it. The only relevant factor, which the BYO article does finally point out, is taste. The article recommends, “if you like the results of using a particular hop variety in the last 5–10 minutes of the boil then you will probably like the results of dry hopping with the same variety.”

One last note here, about when to take the hops out. They can be left in contact with the beer for days or weeks or months, according to BYO. Apparently, the only only real limit is that the hops must be separated out before bottling.


5 Comments so far
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[…] December 13, 2007, 12:00 am Filed under: beer, chinook ipa, dry hopping I mentioned that I dry-hopped this batch of Chinook IPA and that I bottled it over the weekend. I wondered, especially after the first day when the hops […]

Pingback by Dry Hopping and Trub « Gowanus Brewery

[…] comprises 58 posts and 80 comments. Our most popular post since day one with 167 unique clicks was Too Late to Dry Hop about my first and only experimentation with dry hopping. My personal favorite is probably the […]

Pingback by Gowanus Spring Masthead « Gowanus Brewery

Has anyone encountered bubbles on the dry hop bag during secondary fermintation.
I have one week before bottling and noticed bubbles and a few spots of white on top of the brew?

Comment by Don Hickman

Sehr gute Seite. Ich habe es zu den Favoriten.

Comment by mietwagen

Hey there! I’ve been following your web site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent work!

Comment by chuyên tư vấn thiết kế thi công hoàn thiện các loại biển quảng cáo giá rẻ

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