Why Has Dry Hopping Become So Popular?

Dry hopping has become a popular method of manipulating the flavor and aroma profile of a brew.

By Kinnek Knowledge Team  |  June 09, 2018

Many people relatively new to craft brewing aren’t quite sure what to make of the increasing popularity of dry hopping.  It has not only become ubiquitous in the IPA brewing process, but has seen use with other styles as well.  Of course, this has had an effect on vendor offerings of commercial hops.

Dry hopping is a method of manipulating the flavor profile and aroma of a brew.  Essentially, dry hopping involves the placement of “dried-out” hops into already-fermented beer, which avoids boiling the hops (there are many different types of hops, so choose wisely!).  This ensures a more controlled manipulation of the flavor profile and aroma.

Let’s take a quick peek at some of the basics.

The Benefits of Dry Hopping

The primary advantage of dry hopping is the controlled infusion of hop flavor (and aroma) into the beer.  Dry hopping does not involve boiling of the hops in the wort, and as such, the essential oils are not removed from the hops (and mixed with the beer).  This avoids further bittering of the brew, so to speak.

Depending on the method the brewer uses, he or she may have the opportunity to fully evaluate the look, smell, and taste of the brew before “editing” it with an infusion of dry hops.  One might reasonably consider dry hopping akin to a photo touch up — it is used to modify and ultimately to enhance the post-fermentation flavor profile and aroma of the beer.

Methods of Dry Hopping

There are several different methods for dry hopping.  Whatever method you choose, a range of different dry hops can be effectively used: leaf, pellets, and more.  

Secondary Fermenter Hopping

In most cases, dry hops are added to the secondary fermenter in the weeks before the beer is siphoned into a keg or a bottle.  With weeks of hopping, the flavor and aroma infusion will mix together fully with the beer, which may be preferable to a more subtle infusion approach.

Pre-Package Hopping

Alternatively, dry hops may be added just a few days prior to siphoning the beer into a keg or a bottle.  With this balanced approach: the beer has sufficient time to be “infused” with the hop flavor and aroma (but exposure is limited to just a few days), you can ensure that the freshness of the infusion is maintained at the time of bottling.  This method is often preferred by those brewers who are looking to mask their beer with a sharper hop flavor profile (and aroma).

Hop Back Process

Not all dry hopping has to take place at the brewery.  In fact, the hop back process allows for dry hopping at point-of-sale.  The hop back process involves the use of a dry-hop-filled filter unit, through which keg beer is siphoned, and thus infused with the desired flavor profile and aroma.

If done improperly, the hop back process can lead to very intense flavors and aromas, which may put off some customers, so be prepared — provide full and adequate instructions to customers to ensure that they are not overdoing the dry hopping phase during the hop back process.

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