Dry Hopping

Dry Hopping Homebrew

Dry hopping is a process I get immense joy from, it’s a cathartic exercise, from the opening of the bag and that initial waft of amazing hop aroma to the pouring of the hops into the fermenting vessel. I’ve done a lot of dry hopping over the years and have my own technique that works for me.

My technique is fairly simple but with a lot of trial and error I’ve found it to work the best. I dry hop in the fermenter while the beer is warm, I’ve found that the essential oils are better solubilised this way. I dry hop at the end of fermentation, once the beer is below 1.020 or so, at this point there’s still a moderate convection current occurring from the fermentation that will distribute the hops through the beer but the fermentation is not so vigorous that the delicate aromas are stripped off. I look for a maximum of 3 days with the hops in the beer while it’s warm, then chill the beer for 24-36 hours and transfer off the yeast and spent hops.

This achieves a few interesting things:

  1. I find the beer to be less ‘fizzy hop water’/vegetal astringent doing it this way
  2. I can use less hops and get the same result
  3. I find it almost impossible to impart pine like characters into my beer whatever hops I use
  4. Production is reasonably quick, from 1.020 to my FG will take 2 days with one more day warm on the hops, the beer can then be transferred as little as 24 hours later to get it off that yeast and spent hops
  5. The downside of this approach is that if you’re harvesting yeast to brew a subsequent beer you can’t use this yeast so production needs to factor around dry hopping.

I can almost hear what you’re thinking ‘3 days, that’s not long enough’ I’ve found that in actual fact it is and have been pleased to find recently a Thesis on dry hopping by Peter Wolfe that backs this up. His experiments have shown that depending on your system, full aroma extraction can take as little as 4 hours up to 24 hours. Longer contact times actually decrease aroma contribution.

The funny thing about brewing is that there’s almost no new ideas, I’ve figured out the best way for me with trial and error but in practice this is all stuff that’s being done, here’s some excerpts from some prominent breweries on how they dry hop.

Stone:

  • Dry hop at 17°C straight after primary drop yeast off cone and add hops
  • Circulate 3 times over 36 hours then chill and dump
  • Dry hopping on yeasty beer helps reduce astringency, yeast absorbs some harshness
  • Using cascade for dry hopping works better with whole hops
  • If dry hopping bright(ish) beer use whole hops but will require 50% more than T90
  • Mitch Steele advises he uses 100-400lbs of hops per 47hL = 2.1 to 8.5g/L

Russian River:

  • Drop beer to 16°C
  • Yeast off the cone
  • Dry Hops in two batches for between 6-14 days, first batch for 10 days, second for four
  • Better and more aroma at 20°C but interferes with yeast cropping
  • Use fruity hops to mask big alcohol flavours and aromas in bigger beers
  • They do 4 dry hop additions in Pliny the Younger
  • If dry hops are left too long the beer actually loses aroma

Smuttynose:

  • Dry hop at 20°C straight after Primary
  • Dry hop for 7-10 days
  • Use High alpha only

Great Divide:

  • Dry hop at 20°C for 7 days
  • Using whole hops dry hop in BBT at 0.5°C for 10 days in hop sacks
  • Low temp T90 dry hopping at 0.5°C 7-21 days, the higher the alc the longer contact time.

Sierra Nevada note when dry hopping:

  • An increase in ester production when hops are in contact with yeast
  • Linalool and Humulene expression is increased when hops are in contact with yeast, this detracts from pine character though
  • Yeast contact helps remove isovaleric acid

Jk’s standard dry hopping rates (These do vary depending on oil content and aroma):

Dry Hopping Rates

 

Let us know your dry hopping technique, and if you need any guidance on dry hopping for a particular beer style in the comments below.

Formerly of Fullers, Thornbridge and Buxton. Now a freelance Black IPA advocate, homebrew geezer and creator of Baby Back Bacon Black IPA™

12 Comments

  • Reply November 10, 2014

    Daniel

    Most recent IPA was dry hopped with Galaxy(33%), Vic Secret(33%), Citra(16%), Nelson S (16%) in a similar proportion to your guide for four days and it’s got an absolutely lovely aroma.. maybe smells a bit too much like wine gums

    Adapting that for my ~11% DIPA with Citra, Galaxy, Vic Secret again, but with Bravo & Columbus (earthiness?). Looked into double dry hopping, but seems like more hassle for no good reason. Good guide 🙂

  • Reply December 16, 2014

    Matt Dutton

    A nice insight in to different techniques into dry hopping, something that i have been meaning to find out for a while though, how would oil content effect quantity/variety of hops to use. Does excessive oils add to ‘Hop Haze’?

  • Reply December 18, 2014

    JK

    Hi Matt,

    Great question, I’ve found that oil content has an interesting impact, a lot of the time you can correlate increased aroma with a greater amount of oil content, whether or not that’s positive aroma depends on the variety.
    Some of the time (because this is always the way with brewing) this correlation does not work out, some hop varieties just don’t have the aroma impact that you’d expect from the amount of oil they contain. This is probably due to the various percentages of different types of compounds they contain.

    Haze in beer is more likely to be linked to complexes between condensed polyphenols (in hops) and proteins (from malt) than oil content (unless they’re positively correlated).

    Hope that helps

    JK

    Hope that

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  • Reply December 29, 2014

    John

    Hi JK, excellent blog..

    I too dry hop for 3 days max, and if I may do another new addition for 3 days if the aroma is lacking. I do 3 days because I do the taste test for 1 week dry hop and feel that the aroma shines at 3 days, after that it starts to turn grassy.

    I too dry hop on the warm side about 21c when I allow the yeast to clean the beer.

  • Reply January 24, 2015

    Jordan

    Hi JK,

    Great blog, very useful to newbie homebrewers like myself!

    I wanted to ask what your thoughts were about dry hopping character over time. In my last brew I was really pleased with the strength of aroma when I opened my first bottle after 2 weeks. But after another 4 weeks it seemed to have lost about 50% of the aroma.

    What parts of the process do you think need to be improved to maintain the aroma and of a dry-hopped beer for 3 months or more?

    Blog about the beer is here: http://shoreditchbrewing.co.uk/american-ipa-first-attempt/

    Cheers,

    Jordan

  • Reply January 26, 2015

    James Kemp

    Hi Jordan,

    Ah, the eternal problem! Unfortunately there’s no real answer to this, it’s in the nature of hop character to fade over time but there are ways to minimise loss.

    Looking at your recipe and your process there are a few things that you can improve on to create more character.

    To maximise aroma in the finished beer you need a layered approach, dry hopping is great for freshness but as they die away you need some integrated hop character from the copper hops. Unfortunately you’ve got loads of copper hops but none that are giving you much aroma in the finished beer, what I suggest is you add all of those hops you’ve specified at the end of the boil. There is some good info on it here.

    http://www.port66.co.uk/hop-standing/

    When it comes to dry hopping, as above, It looks to me like your g/L is very low for this style of beer and you’re leaving the beer on the hops for too long.
    Once the recipe is nailed you’ll find that the hop character will be more noticeable for longer giving you a good beer for about 3 months but holding onto IPA’s for any longer is crazy, fresh is best!

    Hope that helps

    JK

  • Reply May 18, 2015

    Oliver

    Hi James,

    Great website, thanks for putting it together

    Have you ever experienced vegetal off flavours after dry hopping? I follow the hopping rates you outlined, but I sometimes get off flavours. It appears quite random. Some beers I can put in shed load of hops for extended periods and get great taste, other times I have put in fewer hops per litre for only 2 days and get a grassy taste. I always dry hop with pellets, usually at fermenting temperature.

    Any ideas?
    Thanks

  • Reply May 22, 2015

    James Kemp

    Hi Oliver,

    This could be a couple of things, all hops aren’t created equal and some varieties have more favourable flavours and characteristics than others. A good example is Columbus, a great hop, fantastic character but sometimes it can impart a heavily earthy note to beer which I dislike. Chinook as well can impart this same character but seems to be more dependant on crop year/terroir. Target I find can be extremely grassy no matter what beer I put it in.

    Malt bill, recipe design and abv will also have an effect, have you read this?
    http://www.port66.co.uk/dextrins-dry-hopping-recipe-design/

    It’s hard to say without knowing about or tasting the beers that your describing but I hope this helps a little.

    Cheers

    JK

  • Reply August 18, 2015

    Adriano Mitre

    Hi, James.

    Have you experimented with multiple dry hop additions? Are there any benefits or is it just like mash hopping, which I read is akin to wishful thinking?

    Cheers,

    Adriano

  • Reply September 7, 2015

    James Kemp

    I fully endorse splitting dry hop additions especially with large additions. I usually split mine over two days or if really large over three, I find that doing it that way actually helps the aroma pick up.

  • Reply November 26, 2015

    Gus

    “The downside of this approach is that if you’re harvesting yeast to brew a subsequent beer you can’t use this yeast so production needs to factor around dry hopping.”

    Care to elaborate?

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