So, what exactly is this whole “dry hopping” thing about...
Simply stated, dry hopping is a technique that brewers use to add more aroma to a beer without adding any more hop bitterness. However, up to 75% of what we smell is also what we taste, it can be perceived that there is more hop-bitterness in the given beer.
Let’s explain the dry hop process so you get an idea of what is going on.
About The Dry Hop Process
Most brewers dry hop during the fermentation process, which usually happens toward the end of the primary ferment, because as a beer ferments it produces a large volume of CO2 that would push the hop aroma from the dry hopping process out through the airlock. Thus, no real additional benefit from adding the hops in the first place. Here at Blue Wolf Brewing, we like to add them with about 3 days left before transferring into the bright tank because the fermentation has slowed and won’t release as much of the hop aroma through the airlock.
The hop addition is usually nothing more than taking hop pellets, or cones, and pouring them into the fermenter. You are using hops that have been dried for storage purposes, and that’s why this process is referred to as dry hopping. There are wet hops as well, but that’s a post for another time.
“So, why is there no actual hop bitterness in the beer if you are adding more hops?”
That’s a great question! The answer is because the hops must be heated to above 160 degrees F for them to isomerize and add hop oils to the beer. The higher the temp and the longer the boil, the more flavor will be released by the hops. When you dry hop, the temperature of the beer is usually around 68 degrees F, which is nowhere near the temperature needed for the hops to add more oils.
Why Dry Hop Beer?
Many people wonder why a brewer would dry hop beer if you are only getting a little perceived bitterness from the process? For me and the Blue Wolf Brewing crew, it is a sensory thing.
We are using smell, as well as taste, to create a more rounded and flavorful beer. Dry hopping wasn’t used much by commercial breweries due to scarcity of hops, and, of course, cost. As the craft beer industry grew, more hop farms started popping up throughout the world. Making more varieties of hops available at a lower cost and producing enough hops to keep up with the demand. Once hops were more available it allowed brewers to experiment more, which has led to more flavorful beers.
If you’re wanting to check out one of Blue Wolf Brewing’s dry hop beers, come visit our taproom in Brooklyn Park, MN today!