What’s Hopped Dry Beer?

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Hops are added to beer during brewing to counteract sweetness and add bitterness, aroma, and flavor. Dry hopped beer adds more flavor and aroma without bitterness, but can taste oilier. It is safe to drink if brewed and stored properly.

The hops climb vines, which are dried and added to the beer during brewing. They have a naturally bitter taste that helps counteract the sweetness of the beer’s other ingredients. Depending on the amount and type of hops you use when brewing, you will get more or less aroma, taste and bitterness in the final product.

If you smell hops, you’ll find them deeply aromatic, and when not cooked during the brewing process, they tend not to give as much bitterness, as they don’t release the oils present that create that sharper flavor. To that end, even when brewers use hops while cooking beer, they can also make dry hopped beer.

Dry hopped beer is essentially beer to which dry hops are added to containers such as gallon or liter tanks, after the beer has finished cooking. It takes a little more finesse to make dry sautéed beer at home if you’re pouring the beer directly into the bottle. You would only add a very small amount of dry hops to each bottle.

Adding dry hops to create dry hopped beer adds more flavor and aroma to the beer, but adds no bitterness. Because hops aren’t cooked, they don’t release many of their essential oils. This creates a wonderful fragrance and added light to the strong hop flavor.

Some people complain that dry hopped beer tends to taste a bit oilier than beer without adding hops in the final process. It’s a good idea to look for hops that are milder and have lower oil content. There are many varieties to choose from, including Cascade (not to be confused with cleaner), Crystal, Willamette, and East Kent Golding. If you’re not using kegs, it’s easier to add a few pellets of dry hops, instead of trying to cram hops into the long necks of beer bottles. Some add just a few pellets to the beer mix before bottling, so the mix disperses slightly and causes less sediment in the bottles.

You’ll find hopped dry ale often sold in a variety of beers. Beers, especially pale ones, are generally less bitter but have a distinct hop flavor and aroma. There are a few commercial brands to try. Some of the better known dry beers are Sam Adams Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale and Anchor Liberty.

Some home brewers are concerned that hopped dry beer may not be safe to drink because the hops are not cooked through. Most brewers reject this notion. They argue that both the alcohol content and the yeast present in the beer would decrease the bacterial growth of hops. Home brewers should be careful to follow clean practices and especially sterilize all vessels in which they plan to store any type of home-brewed beer, to minimize potential bacterial contamination.

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