From the HBD Archive
From: polstra!jdp@hplabs.HP.COM (John Polstra)
Subject: dry hopping
Date: 1990-01-30 05:56:43 GMT

Since I'm the one who gave such a ringing endorsement of dry hopping a
few issues ago, I guess I'd better come through now and describe how to
do it.

First of all, several folks asked what dry hopping is. Dry hopping is
the addition of unboiled hops directly to the wort in the fermenter, as
contrasted to the better-known technique of adding the hops during the
boil.

The purpose of dry hopping is to enhance the hop *aroma* of the brew.
Dry hopping produces no bitterness, and little hop flavor. But it does
produce lots of nice hop aroma.

In commercial brewing, as far as I know, dry hopping is used only in
making ales. It is standard practice in England at virtually all
breweries. In the USA, it is the way that the small craft breweries
achieve their wonderfully hoppy brews. If you live in the Pacific
Northwest, you know what I mean.

For bottled beer, the customary time to add the dry hops is when you
rack the wort to the secondary fermenter. Just put the hops into the
bottom of the carboy before you begin to siphon. Somebody asked if it
was appropriate to add the dry hops to the primary fermenter. The
answer, in my opinion, is *definitely not*. The beer should be mostly
fermented out before you add the dry hops.

If you are kegging your beer, it works well to just put the dry hops
into the keg, rather than into the secondary fermenter. To avoid
clogging anything up, I recommend enveloping the hops in a (pre-boiled)
cheesecloth sack. Another way to prevent clogging in a soda keg is to
take a stainless steel scrubbie, sanitize it, and jam it or wire it
under the opening of the metal tube that carries the liquid from the
bottom of the keg to the outlet. The idea is to make a filter that
will keep the hops away from the opening of the tube. (I've never
tried this second method.)

I have read that it takes about three weeks to get the full benefit of
the dry hops. But I've still gotten good results dry hopping in the
secondary for just a week or two.

If you are dry hopping in the secondary, you can use either leaf hops
or hop pellets. I've tried both, and they both work fine. Pellets are
easier to funnel into a carboy, and easier to wash out after you've
bottled. They disintegrate almost immediately into a fine pukey green
powder. This looks awful in the carboy, but it will settle out during
the secondary fermentation. A word of warning, though, about using
pellets: they often cause the wort to foam a whole bunch when you add
them. I think that is caused by the dissolved CO2 "preciptating" out
on the small hop particles. No big deal, it's just that you might have
to clean out your fermentation lock daily until things settle down
again. (And, of course, it might clog and make a mess.) These days I
prefer to use leaf hops, just because they don't cause foaming.

In a keg, it seems to me that pellets would cause crud and cloudiness
problems. So I'd recommend dry hops in cheesecloth for a keg.

A small amount of dry hops goes a long way. A quarter ounce of dry
hops is enough to notice, while a half ounce certainly would not be
overkill for most ales. Experiment and see what you like.

[BEGIN EDITORIAL COMMENT] We homebrewers all like hops. Our natural
tendency is to overdo it with the hops. Try to resist the temptation
to dump two ounces of dry hops into your carboy. Remember, the name of
the game in brewing is *balance*, and that is a very delicate thing to
achieve. [END EDITORIAL COMMENT]

The hops that you use should be as fresh and good-looking as possible.
Don't cheap out and use some moldy old blobs that have been sitting in
the back of the refrigerator for months. First, your risk of infection
will be greater. Second, such crummy hops can add off flavors and/or
aromas to the brew. Go ahead, splurge and buy a fresh packet of hops
just for this.

I haven't tried many different kinds of hops for dry hopping. My
favorites so far are Willamette, Goldings, Cascade, and Hallertau.

Well, that about covers it. Happy brewing . . .

- John Polstra jdp@polstra.UUCP
Polstra & Co., Inc. ...{uunet,sun}!practic!polstra!jdp
Seattle, WA (206) 932-6482

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