Dry-Hopped Beers: More Hops, More Awesome?

Beer Sessions

American beer brewers and beer drinkers alike have been head over heels for hopped-up brews for years now and show no sign of shifting allegiances any time soon. The more hops the better! Dry-hopping is one more way to cram every last bit of hoppiness into a bottle, though for a different reason than you might think.

As an ingredient, hops flowers can be surprisingly finicky. They need to be boiled in the wort (what eventually becomes the beer) in order to extract the resins needed for bitterness. But at the same time, boiling destroys the delicate oils that give nuanced hop flavors and aromas to the beer. Even if the hops are added at the very end of the boiling, significant flavor and aroma compounds are lost.

One solution is dry-hopping. For this, hops are added to the beer when it’s nearly finished fermenting, just before it’s bottled. Because the beer doesn’t get boiled again at this stage, all the oils remain intact. The beer picks up a fresh hop aroma without any further bitterness.

And since aroma is such a huge part of how we perceive flavor, these aromatic dry-hopped beers usually wind up with a much more intricate and complex flavor profile than other highly-hopped beers.

Dry-hopping has been in practice for quite some time, but it’s only been recently that breweries have recognized it’s specific appeal to beer drinkers and are advertising the fact.

Keep an eye out for these dry-hopped beers and give them a try!

• Dry-Hopped Pale Ale from Founders Brewing Company
• Stone IPA from Stone Brewing Company
• Torpedo Extra IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
• 90 Minute IPA from Dogfishhead Craft Brewery

What do you think of dry-hopped beers? Any others to recommend?

Related: Quick and Dirty Guide to American Beer Styles

(Image: Flickr member Duncan licensed under Creative Commons)