What is Dry-Hopping?


If you’ve been trying beer for a while, you may have heard the term “dry-hopping”, but what is dry-hopping, and how does it affect your beer?

Let’s discuss hops.  In the beginning of beer, hops were not the primary bittering agent or preservative.  Instead, other ingredients were used, including a mixture of herbs called gruit that was regulated by rulers, and was taxed heavily.

After some time of being excessively taxed, brewers began to look for other additives that would allow them to preserve and balance the beer without the excessive taxation of gruit.  That’s when hops were discovered for use in beer.  Initially, they were added mainly as a preservative, and were used in styles such as Pale Ales and India Pale Ales.  Also, at the same time, beer drinkers began to like the hop flavor and aroma, and brewers began to use hops exclusively, and even began adding hops during other parts of the brewing process to enhance the flavor and aroma.

Fast forward about a hundred years, when beer-lovers in America started enjoying these hop-accentuated styles.  After some time, we loved the flavor and aroma of hops so much, we expanded the use in hops even further.

Normally, hops are used in the brewing process during the boiling of the liquid, also known as wort (pronounced wert), to balance the flavor, so the finished beer is not overly sweet.  After the wort has been boiled, it is cooled, and the yeast is added to convert the wort into beer.

The idea of dry-hopping is to enhance the hop flavor and aroma of the finished beer.  Because the oils in the hop cone are volatile, the aroma tends to boil off during the boiling of the wort, and escape from the fermentation vessel when carbon dioxide is created and released.  By the time the beer is finished, there is still some aroma left, but to enhance this, brewers add hops to the finished beer.  This allows the hop oils to saturate the beer, and improve the finished hop aroma and flavor.

What types of beer styles are usually dry-hopped?  As just mentioned, Pale Ales and India Pale Ales are the usual suspects, but any time the brewer wants to enhance the hop flavor and aroma, dry-hopping is used.  Some of my favorites include Saisons and a few Irish Red Ales .

Personally, I recently created an IPA, and dry-hopped using Simcoe hops.  It ended up being my most hop fragrant home-brewed beer to date, and I can’t say enough great things about dry-hopping!

So, the next time you see that a certain beer is “dry-hopped”, you now know that you should expect to have a great flowery/citrusy/floral hop aroma and flavor to enhance your beer.

Now that you are an expert on dry-hopping, what’s your favorite dry-hopped beer?

Founders Brewing Co. Porter

Founders Brewing Co. Porter
Founders Brewing Co. Porter

Ever since SF 2088 was passed in Iowa, I have been anxiously awaiting Iowa brewers to begin producing beer above 6.25% ABV, as well as companies to begin distributing their higher-alcohol selections in Iowa.  No company fits the latter situation better than Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

One such beer that is not yet available in Iowa (so I get it in Illinois) is Founders Brewing Co.’s Porter.

It is a very dark, chocolaty robust porter with higher body and sweetness.  It poured as dark as night, and had a nice, thick, dark head.  It was very smooth, and tasted like caramel and chocolate.  Because it is at 6.5%, it is has not yet been distributed in Iowa, but I would drive an hour to buy this beer, it’s that good.  Just like the label says, it’s “Dark, Rich, and Sexy”.

So, let’s see if we can send Founders a message that we want their beer in Iowa, now that SF 2088 passed.  I say cheers to Founders Porter!

Flying Dog Garde Dog

Flying Dog Garde Dog
Flying Dog Garde Dog

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to try the latest seasonal offering from Flying Dog Brewery, Garde Dog.  It is a Biere de Garde style of beer, which is a French farmhouse ale, similar to the saison style, but tends to have a bit less hop flavor and aroma.

This beer poured nicely, and I made sure to swirl the last bit of beer left in the bottle to mix in the yeast.  It started out fruity and slightly malty, and had just a hint of spice.  The hop flavor was slight, and the balance was perfect.  The finish was so clean, it was as if I had just had a sip of water.  It was very light and refreshing, and I can’t wait to have one of these on a nice summer day.

Have you tried Garde Dog?  What’s your experience with Biere de Garde?

Support Your Local Brewer – Support HR 4278

US Capitol
H.R. 4278 Would Help Small Brewers

In an effort to improve the small brewer business community, in December 2009, Democrat Representative Richie Neal (MA) and Republican Representative Kevin Brady (TX) introduced H.R. 4278, decreasing the excise tax for brewers producing smaller amounts of beer.  This would give smaller brewers and brewpubs a tax break, up to a specific amount of beer produced.  The current excise tax law was put in place in the 70’s and has not been updated since then, even though the national production of beer has more than doubled and the number of small producers has increased exponentially.  In addition, this may allow the initiation and growth of start-up breweries, providing more selection.  The new proposed tax breakdown would be:

  • The first 60,000 barrels would have the tax reduced from $7 to $3.50 per barrel
  • Tax on production between 60,001 and 2 million barrels would change from $18 to $16
  • The current $18 tax would remain for more than 2 million barrels produced in a year

As you can see, this helps small brewers the most, allowing many smaller brewers and brewpubs, including Old Capitol Brew Works in Iowa City, Great River Brewery in Davenport, and Millstream Brewing Co. in Amana, to save money on these taxes.

This bill was brought to my attention by Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association of America.  In his article, Charlie Papazian discusses many advantages of the proposed legislation, with the largest advantage being creation of jobs at the thousands of small breweries and brewpubs across the country.

The Brewers Association has built a resource page to list details of H.R. 4278, as well as the bill’s current co-sponsors, which has had the number almost double within the past two weeks.

So, support your local breweries and brewpubs by contacting your representative and either thanking them for the support, or encouraging them to co-sponsor the bill!

The New Era Starts at Midnight!

Since the passage of Iowa SF 2088, we have been anxiously waiting for several higher alcohol beers to begin appearing on store shelves.  We just found out the wait is over!

Starting tonight at midnight, John’s Grocery will begin selling several higher alcohol Bell’s Brewery, Inc. offerings, including Third Coast Old Ale Barley Wine, Expedition Stout, Two Hearted Ale, Hop Slam and Consecrator Doppelbock.  Although Bell’s Brewery’s sub-6% options have been available in Iowa, this is the first time Bell’s Brewery’s high alcohol beers have been available since the highly publicized disagreement between Larry Bell, president of Bell’s Brewery, and the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.  John’s Grocery will also be selling beer from Iowa’s own Peace Tree Brewing: Hop Wrangler and Rye Porter.

John’s Grocery will have a tasting of these beers from midnight to 2 am, with limited quantities available for purchase.  Hope to see you there!