Beer Nerd Alert!
Thanks to Jasper’s Homebrew and Winemaking (on Twitter at @boomchugalug), we have some choice pieces of information to share with those wanting to try dry hopping while homebrewing! Inky Beer is going to try this with our Imperial IPA.
Dry Hopping Instructions
Dry hopping is the process whereby hops are added uncooked or “dry” to the beer at different stages of fermentation. Many beer styles, such as pale ales or IPAs, are traditionally dry hopped to produce the authentic fresh hop flavor.
Many beginning brewers are fearful of contaminating their beer by adding the uncooked dry hops. While it is true that uncooked dry hops may harbor some bacteria, the practice of dry hopping virtually never contaminates a beer. Never. Therefore, don’t worry, dry hop, and be happy.
By far, the best time to dry hop is after most or all fermentation had taken place. Once wort has fermented into beer, it has become a more biologically stable. For example, after fermentation is complete, beer is anaerobic, meaning there is no oxygen dissolved in the beer. Many beer spoilage organisms are aerobic, and in the absence of oxygen, these spoilage organisms remain permanently dormant. Second, the beer now contains alcohol, which further inhibits spoilage organisms. Finally, the process of yeast fermentation drops the beer’s pH, making the environment inhospitably to the bad guys. Three strikes and you’re out.
How to Dry Hop:
- When racking your beer into the secondary fermenter* (i.e., glass carboy), add the dry hops. For convenience and ease of use, we recommend using hop pellets instead of hop leaves or plugs. Of course, every brewer has his or her own hop-form preference, but we find hop pellets to be the easiest. Before beginning the siphon, simply cut open the package and dump in the hops. Now siphon in the beer. That’s it!
- For optimal extraction of the hop flavors, let the dry hops rest in the secondary for two weeks. When you have first added the hops, the pellets will break down and float, and the green surface layer of hop sludge will resemble slimy, algae-covered swamp water. If this doesn’t make you want to grab a beer, what will? Over the course of a few weeks, much of these beer-soaked hops will sink to the bottom, though some of the green gunk will continue to float.
- When racking the beer prior to bottling, try to leave behind as much of the hop matter as possible. While racking, the hops still floating will tend to whisk off to the fermenter’s sides and stick to the glass. If you should vacuum up some hops, don’t worry. Most of the solid matter will drop to the bottom of your bottling bucket instead of flowing through your spigot into your bottles. In the unusual event that some hops should get into your bottles, who cares? The scant hop matter will sink to the bottle’s bottom with the yeast. When you decant the beer into your glass, you’ll leave behind the yeast and hops. Voila! If a miniscule hop particle should wind up in your friend’s glass and he grimaces, just claim it’s a blob of mold, and send him off to drink some lousy, flavorless American factory beer. No, scratch that – friends don’t let friends drink flavorless American factory beers. When faced with this unpleasant situation, drink wine, spirits, cough syrup, Sterno, floor wax, or if desperation mounts, then float a shot of vodka into carbonated water with a dash of yellow food coloring – but remember – just don’t, for the love of all that’s good and pure, reach for the factory beer! An entire nation of beleaguered livers and deprived taste buds will thank you!
* For brewers who don’t have a secondary glass carboy or who are lazy or who simply relish in cheating the system, then dry hop right in the primary. After five or so days when most of the fermentation is complete, open your fermenter, dump in the dry hops and close up the fermenter again. Then let the beer sit for the requisite two weeks and then proceed to bottling.