If you are first starting out in the craft beer world you may at times come across terms and methods that you may not fully understand. Today we explain Dry Hopping.
So What Exactly is Dry Hopping?
Dry Hopping is the method of adding Hops (usually dry leaf hops) to your Beer after the boiling process has been completed and after you have achieved a stable gravity (fermentation has completed). Hops are added to the secondary fermentor for about a period of 5 to 7 days to achieve a more robust aroma from your ale. Some brewers will Dry Hop even longer, but this usually does not produce any measurable results.
The most popular ales that incorporate this methods are IPAs for obvious reasons. However, this can be used on any ale that you might want to add that little extra kick to tickle the olfactory senses
What about bacteria? Should I be worried?
Sounds kind of scary, adding an unsanitized organic to your ale doesn’t it? We spend so much time making sure nothing gets in our beer, that just dumping something foreign into it seems rather counter productive. Well not to worry, since your ale has already completed fermentation, the alcohol present in the beer will help prevent contamination. Also as an added measure Hops are naturally anti-microbial themselves! So drop those Hops without reserve.
How exactly do I Dry Hop?
There are three methods that I know of for Dry Hopping. and two types of hops that you can use.
Leaf Hops or Pellets?
Leaf Hops float on the surface and are easier to remove or avoid at kegging and bottling time. Pellet Hops will break apart and fall to the bottom thus making it much harder to avoid when processing your batch. Ultimately it is up to you, but for obvious reasons Dry Leaf Hops are preferred.
Bag your hops in a mesh nylon bag before adding to your secondary. This makes for super easy removal. However you must be cautioned that if you are using a typical glass carboy bagging is not advised. The hops will swell and the bag will be impossible to remove. A large mouth secondary is recommended if you decide to bag your hops.
Plunking (as I call it)
Just plunk the Dry Hops in the ale, simple as that.
Primary Dry Hopping
Instead of racking your ale to the secondary, add your hops (bagged or not) to the primary (after stable gravity has been achieved). This of course will skip any secondary fermentation process your ale may have required. This is only advised if you are using a super flocculent yeast that creates a nice hard cake at the bottom. When racking just be super careful and try not to suck up too much trub.
I hope this helps you in your Dry Hopping adventures.