Before the 13 Colonies even decided to start a revolution, we've had a love of beer. Through the years, culinary trends have come and gone but the one thing that has always remained is the frothy beverage.
Over the last decade, we've shifted our tastes. No longer is price the deciding factor in cracking a cold one. Now, we'll pay big bucks for the deep fragrances of pale ales and crisp IPA's.
If you're interested in dry hopping your homebrew, check out our tips below.
Dry hopping is the process of adding hops to beer for more aroma. If you've ever had a pale ale or IPA, you've drunk a beer that's dry hopped. Since the increase in craft breweries and home brewmasters, dry hopping is finding its way to other styles of beer.
When you dry hop, you're not boiling the hops so their oils aren't extracted. What that means is, your beer's bitterness won't get affected. That's good news if you're not a fan of bitter beer but you love the taste of a hoppy one!
You already learned the first pro: dry hopping your beer won't increase its bitterness. The second advantage is you can get as much aroma and flavor into your brew as you'd like.
Now, you do add bittering hops to the boil to get your desired bitterness, but dry hopping won't affect it after the fact.
The advantage of not boiling the hops leads to one disadvantage some worry about. Since the hops aren't boiled, they're not sanitized. But hops don't have the ideal growing environment for bacteria anyway.
If you're still worried, bacteria can't compete with the active yeast in the wort. That means that if you add hops to the primary fermenter after it starts fermenting, bacteria won't grow because of yeast.
In secondary fermenters, the alcohol and low pH of the beer will crush any bacteria growth.
There are three main methods used in traditional dry hopping:
There isn't a right or wrong way; it's what you prefer. The point is that the hops touch fermented beer, so any of these will work.
Dry hopping in the secondary--loose means you're using loose hops. It's the most popular way to dry hop, especially in homebrewing.
After fermentation, rack your beer. When you decide you're ready to add the dry hops, dump them in the carboy.
Dry hopping with contained hops is the same process but instead of loose hops, they're contained. Nylon mesh bags are easy if you have a plastic carboy. But in a glass one, it's harder to get the hops out when they've expanded from absorbing the liquid.
The third method is dry hopping in the primary. The biggest benefit you'll get from this is you'll avoid reintroducing more oxygen to your beer.
Once you've thought about how you'll dry hop, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
The point of dry hopping is to increase the flavor and aroma, so you want to choose the one you like best. Pretty simple, right?
The difficult part is picking out the right one. There are several hops to choose from but it's common to select one with an alpha acid rating of 6% or less.
There aren't any other rules for selecting your hops and you may want to experiment with a lot of different ones before you decide on your go-to.
When they're fresh, whole hops have the best aroma. But they oxidate quicker than plugs and pellets. It's also harder to submerge whole hops without introducing oxygen so weigh the bag with marbles to help cut down on this.
Plugs last longer than whole hops and they're made for dry hopping. You won't need to weigh them down but they're hard to break up.
Pro brewers recommend using pellets. They don't have as many oils as whole hops and these oils get extracted easier. This means you'll have more aroma.
Pellets have a longer shelf life and fall apart at the bottom when they're submerged, so racking is easier. If you go with pellets, add them slowly. They'll foam up when they contact the CO2.
This gets tricky because the general guideline is .5 oz. to 4 oz. per five gallons. It's common to use .5-1 oz. for pale ales, 1-2 oz. for an IPA, and 2-4 oz. for a double IPA.
But it depends on the variety of hops you're using. Citra hops are more intense so you might want to be conservative at first. Kent Goldings aren't as potent.
You're the brewmaster, so it's up to your tastes. For comparison, Goose Island IPA uses 1.33 oz. per 5-gallon batch and Stone 10th Anniversary IPA (double) uses 3.90 oz. An example of a Black IPA is Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, which uses 1.29 oz. for five gallons.
Whether you're going to add them to the primary or secondary, you need to time out when you're bottling. You should aim for 5-7 days before that. After a week, there's no benefit from dry hopping, so don't aim for longer than that.
In the beginning, you'll experience with different varieties of hops so you may find you like a few qualities of more than one. There's nothing stopping you from experimenting even more and adding a few different kinds.
Some homebrewers feel using more than one variety creates more depth. This is true, but the goal is to use complementary flavors and aromas. Don't overpower one with another because you're taking away the qualities you liked about it in the first place.
Balance is everything in life, and it's true even in beer brewing!
There are many reasons why you should be brewing your beer at home. The biggest reason is you have the ability to control every aspect of the process including dry hopping.
If you want to start homebrewing, Woody's Home Brew has everything you need. We sell brewing equipment, bottling supplies, and of course, hops!