Over the past year or so, brewing-related podcasts have really helped to increase my knowledge and understanding – of techniques, styles, and the actual processes that are going on from start to finish. I’m a big fan of Basic Brewing, and the Jamil Show on The Brewing Network. A few months back I noticed that Jamil Zainasheff teamed up with John Palmer for Brew Strong, a show geared towards extensively covering a single brewing topic for each episode.
One of the recent episodes, and by recent I mean almost 3 months ago, focused on Dry Hopping. JZ & JP brought in Mike McDole, he of the Longshot-winning-Pliny-Clone that I will be hopefully drinking soon. Anyway, since dryhopping seems to be an important but often overlooked technique, I figured I’d take some notes while re-listening recently.
- When to add? Approximately 90% of the way through primary. Since the process of introducing hops into your fermentor while inevitably introduce oxygen into the system, you want some fermentation activity still going on so that if can scrub that oxygen out.
- JZ mentions that he mostly is not concerned with introduction-of-oxygen-via-hop-addition, since racking is likely going to be a more oxygen-inducing process anyway. I recently started doing co2-driven transfers from better bottle to better bottle, better bottle to corny keg, and corny keg to corny keg, so hopefully severe oxidization will not be a problem for me in the future.
- Hop resins coat yeast, inhibit them, reduces viability… As a result, pitching rate generally has an effect on hop absorption
- 65dF seems to be the optimal dryhopping temperature
- Quantity? For an APA, McDole uses 2 oz per 5 gallon batch. This seems to be the standard amount for most American styles. English and Belgian styles should use a little less.
- How long? Usually, no more than 1 week. For Double IPAs (which would require more dryhopping… McDole recommends splitting the total in half, and dry-hopping each total 5 days apart. For light styles (not sure if this refers to light in color, light in body, etc) – it should definitely never be longer than 1 week.
- McDole blows co2 in every couple days to rouse the yeast and hops, which should give better utilization. Unfortunately most of us don’t have conical fermentors where this is easy to do. However, I imagine I could rig up some sort of racking-cane-and-carboy-cap based solution for my better bottles where I could blow co2 in.
- Taste samples! The key is to just be consistent with your quantities and times. That, combined with sampling often, means finding the perfect balance in the future should theoretically just be a recipe adjustment.
- Put your nuts in your sack. If you are going to use sacks to neatly contain your hops for dryhopping, you need to balance the weight of the hops with an equal amount of something else, or it will end up floating on the surface. Marbles or stainless steel nuts are good for this purpose. A tight sack is not good, it has to swing free. Hang it in and pull it out, like you are teabagging. Wow.
- In “traditional” German brews, dryhopping is not appropriate. This is because Noble hops tend to somehow give more flavor and aroma from boil.
- JZ lures dogs towards his crotch with malt extract not peanut butter. Interesting tidbit. Shadow certainly would love some malt extract.
- High alpha hops have more oil per weight, which produces more pure aroma, which means you can get more with less. The percentage of alpha acid and the percentage of oils are not same but often related. Hops that generally have more time on the bide, have more oil in them.
- Too much dryhop for too long leads to grassy flavors, due to the abundance of vegetal matter floating in your beer.
- Simcoe is yummy but some people think it reminds them of cat pee. JZ loves that variety of cat pee regardless.
- Extraction seems to be better at higher temperatures.
- If filtering (McDole filters his beer), and you feel as though the filtering stripped any hop flavor out – you can fix this with a recipe adjustment next time.
- Temperature: Earlier they said 65 dF is perfect, but they mentioned that Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River [side note: they fine every single beer with gelatin] believes 50 dF is the perfect temperature – “cold enough to drop cal ale yeast [out of suspension] but warm enough to dissolve hop goodies.”
- JZ almost always skips secondary (most times, it is just another opportunity to oxidize or introduce infection.) However, if doing a massively-dry-hopped beer like Pliny, he will transfers to a carboy and then adds his dryhops
- If you dryhop in the keg, there will be less loss of delicate aromatics being carried out from the ferment. (But if it is not drunk fairly quickly, it will get vegetal.)
- Dryhopping with wet hops is a terrible idea due to the high bacterial / wild yeast load, since most plant matter is covered in wild yeast and dust and stuff. (Kilning kills off the bad stuff.)
- Mixing hops: You can use many if they are the same family (there are dominant hops and there are background hops. Simcoe is onion, celery, Northern Brewer is minty, woody, Columbus is piney, catpee-ish. Consult the Hop Flavor Wheel in Brewing Classic Styles
- And finally…Pliny the Elder is able to be so full and have wonderful mouthfeel despite being so dry, because the boatload of hop resins are able to provide balance and almost take the place of malts.