If you're a true hop head and are looking for those incredible tropical fruit aromas you're used getting from your favourite pale ale or IPA in your brewing creations, then it's time take the plunge and start dry hopping.
Dry hopping is in essence, just adding more hops to your wort after the boil. This can happen at many different stages, for many different amounts of time. The reason dry hopping imparts so much aroma is because there's no heat to drive off those precious volatile oils from the hops. Your wort needs to be at least below 80 C before dry hopping, but normally I dry hop after a few days of active fermentation have passed.
A popular approach to dry hopping is to add the additional hops on day three of fermentation, and leave in for three days. To achieve this, you'll need a sterilised hop bag to contain everything, else you won't be able to pull it back out after the third day. You can of course just leave your hops insitu in the wort, but some people describe a "grassy" taste if they dry hop for too long.
Remember, hops have antibacterial properties, so you're unlikely to infect a brew with the hops them selves, but as always, if anything else is going to contact the fermenting brew, it must be 100% sterilised. You also want to minimise the amount of time the fermenter is open as much as possible. We don't want wild yeasts from the air infecting the batch.
You can use whole cones or pellets to dry hop (I imagine plugs are fine too, though I've never tried). Some great hops to start your dry hopping experiments include:
- Mosaic. Paddy's all time fave hop variety. Mosaic is very versatile, and depending on how it's used, it can lend citrus, pine, and fruit like aromas to your beer (Among others). A big hit in the craft beer market, and for good reason.
- Galaxy. My favourite to dry hop with. Although I am starting to come around to Paddy's way of thinking, I still love a good dose of Galaxy on day three of fermentation. The fruity and tropical aromas you can impart on a brew are just awesome in my opinion.
- Cascade. I think of Cascade as an all rounder. Great for bittering, throw some in at flameout for flavour, and a great option for aroma too (IE: Dry hopping). This is what you think of when you picture those classic American style craft pale ales in your head.
If you want to get some more info around which Australian hop varieties might work for your brew, here's a great resource to use also:
So that's it, get out there and start dry hopping. You won't believe the aromas you can get going using this great technique.