Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Dry hopping for homebrewers

Last night I had to give a talk at London Amateur brewers about dry hopping beers. Well, I did not have to give a talk about dry hopping but being a bit of a hophead it was the obvious choice.

I promised a few homebrewers on twitter I would stick this on a blog....So here goes with some comments.

The 'teach your granny to suck eggs' slide....Not 100% sure of the benefit of Mash hopping but makes the mash tun smell good when you are cleaning it out. 

A selection of dry hopped beers I drink, of which Racer 5 is notable for having no aroma hops, just bittering and dry. Oh and a blatant plug for Weird Beard Brew Co.

 Pretty self explanatory. Can you sense a theme with my love of the smell of hops?

Try this at home Kids....You will find that the water is bitter. Dry hopping does add some bitterness to water, I would assume it would add some bitterness to beer as well. If you use Apollo hops as I did you will also get a noticeable smell of onion or garlic.

This is the sum of the collective intelligence on the internet. Hopping rates tend to be a bit higher in the USA and lower in the UK.

 Minor technique spot. Whole leaf hops give a considerably smaller effect unless you can keep them in motion around the beer on a regular basis. Some have said that dry hopping in a cornie and giving the cornie a roll every morning is one way of doing it. My view is avoid dry hopping with whole leaf hops if you can.

 Traditional English Dry Hopping. I did not quite get enough info from Fullers to make this a great slide. Hop plugs are 14g of whole leaf hops that are formed into an ice hockey puck shape.

Some info from Evin at the Kernel. Not much more to be said really.

You can experiment with hopped water to get a good feel for the effect of different hops.

Hop oil content taken from Brew Your Own's 'Hop Lovers Guide'. You can buy it from the USA or from Beer in Print here. The number in brackets is the High alpha acid value for the variety.  Note Amarillo can be very variable, Nelson Sauvin is very consistent, Columbus is very powerful, Kent Golding is subtle and Bullion shows that moderate alpha hops can have high oil content.

I have said before that hop pellets are best and whole leaf hops are a bit rubbish. The problem with hop pellets is that the availability of them in homebrew shops is patchy at best. So what do you do if you want that big dry hop character and can't get the pellets? Hop Purée! Try it! I have and it works well.

Not that anyone really cares...they have Evin's method (above). Talking of Evin, the first line is Evin's personal recommendation to homebrewers. 

...for adding hop character after fermentation.

Bit pointless this slide as you don't have the beer I was passing around...but it mentions Weird Beard so I kept it in.

These are all experiments that you can do at home. Dry hopping spirits has been mentioned recently by Mark Dredge at pencil and spoon. I do like the idea of making a hop tea with sugar and water and using it to prime the bottles. This is definitely on my list of things to do.

Ok, I hope this has been of some use to people, I don't consider myself an expert on this by any means but I have learnt a fair bit in the process of putting these slides together. 


  1. Two things:
    - you've inspired me to dry hop some vodak, I'll let you know how that goes..
    - My favorite hops chart for those who missed it way back http://zekeshore.com/hops_v1.12.png

    It was a really great talk, and I'm very much looking forward to some WBBC dry hopped monstrosities!

  2. Cheers Ben that chart is great. I'll dry hop some gin and we can compare notes next month!

  3. When dry-hopping with pellets or 'hop puree' do you just chuck them straight in the FV and rely on the fact that they will sink or put them in a hop sock?

  4. Great article :) I'm sure I've gleaned a few bits from it and confirmed what I'm doing with my homebrew :)

    I never thought to liquidize the hops to a puree, maybe I'll spread some on toast!!
    The 2-4c bit is just to get the hop pellets to settle out in the FV, they do tend to float around a lot and can make it a pain when bottling or transferring to bottling bucket.
    I'm quite surprised at the length of time quoted at Kernel for the dry hops being in, I'd say thats a bare minimum, though the longest I've done has been about a week.
    I totally agree that Whole hops need a loads of stirring to get the best out of them.

  5. @MPG Yes just chuck them in, when you chill it down the hop debris will sink to the bottom, some will still float on top but if you transfer to bottling bucket then the top floaters will stick to the side of the fermenter as it drains.

    @pdtnc Would not recommend Hop purée on toast for two reasons Bitter as all hell and while it call it a purée it is a coarse really and you would get hop debris in your teeth! My feeling is that commercially the Kernel are looking for a fast turn around as possible so I suspect they overhop for a shorter time. Sounds like another experiment. 5g/L for 2 days vs 4g/L for 4 days.

  6. I've already dry hopped at 5-6g/L with whole hops
    5g/L worked especially well in this http://pdtnc.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/ag54-c-c-a-n/ I did give the hops a fair amount of stirring and squashing them against the side of the FV.

    The Hops on Toast thing, I won't be trying! ;)

    No mention of the Hop-Oils in your post, thats another experiment for another post maybe. I think I'd prefer real hops.

  7. Cheers Pengo. I really like the hop puree idea, esp as pellets are not that common in the UK (are they?). Stirring leaf hops sounds like a great way to oxidise your beer. I've always just let them float on top, but it does feel like I'm not getting the best out of them. In the mood to do a hoppy monster now. Happy daze.

  8. @pdtnc My experiments with hop oils have been very underwhelming. I've raised this on jbk and the only person with anything good to say about them is Rob the malt miller (coincidentally). I wait to hear a better report before persevering with them. Viva real hops!

  9. Very interesting. I have made hop vodka with citra and cascade with good results. Further to the hop puree \ hop tea ideas I wonder whether it might be interesting to make a watery hop puree, pressure cook for a few minutes and filter the tea into the corny when racking from the FV. This I think would deliver the aroma in a sterile and debris - free way..

  10. @pdtnc No I omitted hop oils, that is a whole other kettle of fish, not sure if I have made my mind up yet if i think they are a good or bad thing.

    @mpg I think the malt miller now had 17 kinds of pellet hops (including some new and interesting NZ ones) so they are starting to become available, I only use the purée when the pellets are not available.

    @Steve Interesting...not even sure if you would need to heat it...just blend with lots of water and then filter it off. ONe story told at the meeting was of someone who carried a bottle of hopped water around with him to bars so if he got a boring beer he could jazz it up a bit but putting in a splash of hopped water.

  11. Hahaha, that just shows how long it is since I've been on the malt miller! I have sacks of malt under the stairs, LOADS of hops in the freezer, and a yeast bank 20 yards from my front door...

  12. That yeast bank sounds useful!

  13. I've just suggested your article as a good source of info on JimsBeerKit, hope you don't mind. http://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=50136

  14. Oh, btw... I think there is a flavour advantage to dry hopping with Real hops rather than Oils... but I've not experimented with oils enough.

  15. Interesting article indeed and I think I will give the hop porridge, mush thing a try next time I "not so" dry hop a brew. I've dry hopped my Black IPA with all the Cascade I had left, only 22g alas so I think I may have underdone the dry hopping on an epic scale.

  16. I usually dry hop with whole leaf hops in cask. It certainly takes two weeks to develop a proper dry hop aroma.

    I may have to try using pellets but they may be a pain in terms of blocking the tap/hop filter. We shall see...

  17. @mentaldental If you have facility to chill then the pellets drop to the bottom and you can run off from above the yeast/hop bed or use an autosyphon into a bottling bucket/cornie

    @steve189 22g may be a bit light if you are looking for a real punch of flavours.

    @pdnc I'm not sure I trust oils, seems a bit "massive lager brewery" to me, although I am aware of some american micros who use hop oils