10 Tips To Optimize Dry Hop Aroma

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Crave that pungent hop aroma in your IPAs and Pale Ales? Enjoy coating your nostrils with sticky hop goodness? Want to achieve the dry hop character of The Alchemist's Heady Topper in your own beer? Below are 10 things you can do to enhance the aroma of your hop-forward beers.
1 - Use pellets
According to research conducted by Peter Wolfe (Oregon State University) and Mitch Steele (Stone Brewing Co.), hop pellets are the most widely used dry hopping medium in the United States. While some brewers still debate whether pellets deliver the same "fresh hop" aroma as whole cones, there is one fact that cannot be debated (thanks to Wolfe): pellets show more rapid and higher overall extraction than whole hops. If you prefer to use whole cones, keep in mind that they benefit from longer contact time.
2 - Consider multiple varieties
Much like salt and pepper, dry hop varietals often work best in tandem. Whether it's Simcoe and Amarillo, Citra and Centennial, Chinook and Cascade, or Nelson Sauvin and Columbus, dry hopping with two or more hop varieties can help create greater depth in your beers. But be careful not to overdo it! In fact, you may find you can detract from a desirable characteristic of one hop if overwhelmed with another. The key is finding the right balance.

Citra's Tropical Citrus Fruit Balances Simcoe's Piney Character
3 - Use multistage additions
According to Steele, Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River Brewing Co.), Matt Brynildson (Firestone Walker Brewing Co.), and Jamil Zainasheff (Heretic Brewing Company), among others, multistage dry hopping adds greater depth to your beers. One the commercial scale, the need for multistage dry hopping is straightforward: the large cylindroconical fermenter geometry result in less contact area between the hops and beer at the base of the tanks. Wolfe doesn't believe this technique is as much of a benefit to homebrewers since many fermenters use a flat bottom. Personally, I have noticed a difference between beers I have dry hopped in one verses two (and even three!) stages. YMMV.
4 - Utilize warmer temperatures
The warmer the beer temperature at dry hopping, the more aroma you will extract from the hops. In For The Love of Hops, author Stan Hieronymus reported the following dry hop temperatures for commercial breweries: Stone at 62F, Lagunitas at 70F, New Belgium at 54F, and Sierra Nevada at 68F. Even lager breweries, such as Jack's Abby, raise beer temperature to 55F during dry hopping. For me, I find it easiest to dry hop at ambient fermentation temperatures (66-68F).
5 - Optimize contact time
Wolfe found that most commercial dry hopping regimens last anywhere between three days to one week, sometimes extending upwards of one month! Steele recommends limiting dry hopping to 5-15 days. Conversely, Brynildson does not exceed three days with any dry hop addition. Keep in mind many commercial breweries have the ability to rouse the hops, keeping them in suspension via hop cannon or torpedo-like devices. Unroused pellets will only achieve 3/4 of the overall aroma intensity as roused ones, peaking at four days, according to Wolfe. Experimentation is key here; I've found that four days of contact time provides substantial aroma for my IPAs.

Add That 'Hop Field' Aroma To Your IPA
6 - Start in primary
Most breweries dry hop after primary fermentation is complete to prevent yeast from absorbing hop flavors and allowing for yeast harvest for subsequent batches. Some breweries have openly ignored this dogma, introducing dry hops during the final stages of primary fermentation. Lagunitas, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and Firestone Walker introduce some/all of their dry hops before reaching terminal gravity. Brynildson prefers this method because it takes advantage of yeast-hop interaction and reduces oxygen uptake from the hops due to the still-active yeast.
7 - Minimize oxygen uptake
As any experienced brewer knows, minimizing oxygen uptake post-fermentation is critical. For hop-forward beers it is essential! No matter how good your technique, the most common area where oxygen uptake is introduced is during racking. Reducing the total number of vessels (secondary fermenter, keg, and bottles) the beer matures in is one easy way to reduce oxygen uptake. Even better is purging all your racking equipment and vessels with a liberal amount of CO2 before transfer.
8 - Utilize late hopping/whirlpooling
Research conducted in the late 2000's by Rock Bottom's Van Havig revealed that late hopping/whirlpooling may be more effective at achieving high levels of hop aroma than dry hopping. First, his data demonstrated that longer post-boil hop residence (whirlpool) resulted in more hop flavor, aroma, and perceived bitterness than shorter residence. Second, longer post boil residence resulted in more hop flavor than dry hopping alone; therefore hop flavor is best developed in the kettle. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, was the combination of late hopping and dry hopping resulted in greater aroma than dry hopping alone.

A Whirlpool Hop Addition Improves Aroma Too
9 - Understand the law of diminishing returns
Dry hop aroma doesn't increase exponentially with the addition of greater amounts of dry hops. In fact, Havig also demonstrated that brewers can reach a point of diminishing return with dry hops. Many commercial breweries report a dry hopping rate between 0.25-1.5 oz/gal (0.5-3 lb/bbl) with breweries such as Stone, Lagunitas, and New Belgium at the higher end of the spectrum, averaging to 0.5 oz/gal (1 lb/bbl). This is a good place to start, but I find best results at 1.5 oz/gal for my hoppy IPAs.
10 - Check the chart!
Taking advantage of craft brewers' willingness to share recipes with homebrewers, I have begun to develop a comprehensive commercial dry hop analysis chart: http://dryhop.thirdleapbrew.com

Commercial Dry Hop Analysis Chart
The goal is to determine the average dry hop rate and duration for hop-forward beer styles. My initial findings suggest DIPAs to utilize 0.78 oz/gal for 11 days, IPAs to utilize 0.48 oz/gal for 9 days, and Black IPAs to utilize 0.4 oz/gal for 12 days, on average.
If you have a verified commercial DIPA, IPA, APA (or any hoppy beer style) recipe and would like to add it to the chart, please leave a comment below!
"Andrew is an award-winning homebrewer and avid beer enthusiast. For more from this talented brewer and writer find him on his multiple social media accounts, or at his blog ThirdLeapBrew.com!"
Good read, and good timing. I'm about to dry hop my IPA tomorrow and it's making me question the amount of hops I'm using for the dry hop. I was originally planning for 1 oz of Galaxy, but now I'm thinking about running out and picking up 2 more ounces.
One thing I've wondered about for a while is the impact of dry hopping in a hop sock as opposed to releasing them freely. I find it difficult to keep hop particles out of my kegs if I don't use a sock, which is a pain.
Incredible stuff here. So much information here. The research that has gone into this is self evident, clearly a labor of love. It must have taken a long time nonetheless. I feel sure I will be referencing this article ad nauseam in the coming months/years. Many thanks
So when you say reduce the number of vessels and minimize oxygen intake...are you trying to say not to rack to a secondary to dry hop? I always thought you HAD to rack to secondary if you're dry hopping.
@bassclefbrewing I don't see any reason you'd need to use a secondary to dry hop. You don't want to sit on the dead yeast cake TOO long, but unless you're going over a month that's a non-issue really.
@bassclefbrewing correct. I never rack to secondary to dry hop (but I also do not harvest yeast from my hoppy beers), instead adding the first dose of dry hops after about 6-7 days (at the end of primary fermentation) and the second dose on day 10. To each their own.
@BadWolfBrewing I thought the same thing before I tried it. You can use less if you have a lot of late hops and whirlpool for 30-45 minutes, but all my IPA recipes utilize 1.5oz/gal and I've enjoyed the massive hop aroma. There are a few threads around here which advocate similar rates but YMMV. The key is experimenting to find your preferred amount. A good place to start is with the dry hop chart above.
I liked this article. But as with everything else regarding brewing techniques... ask 5 brewers how they do it and you'll get 7 or more answers. It all comes down to what you feel comfortable doing with your beer.
I do think proper dry-hopping makes all the difference in hoppy styles. Its just a matter of finding out how to make it work and can only be learned by careful, thoughtful trial and error.
I use a muslin bag weighted with lead-free glass marbles and suspended in the center of the beer with unflavored dental floss. I usually dry hop for seven days at 68 - 70 degrees F with excellent results. Diffusion will see to it that all of your beer ends up with an equal concentration of awesome...
Thanks for the article! I definitely need to work on my dry hopping techniques and this might help a lot.
Just a quick correction: In paragraph 9 you might want to change 0.25-1.5 oz/gal (0.5-3 lb/gal) to 0.25-1.5 oz/gal (0.5-3 lb/bbl)
@bassclefbrewing I follow Ed Wort's lead and have gone to primary only, w no secondary, then rack one time into the keg and dry hop there. I dry hop in the primary fermenter, if I am bottling, rather than kegging. I think that this article is good but I'm going to up my quantities of dry hops.
I did a 5.5 gallon batch of Lawsons' Finest Liquids "Double Sunshine" clone from BYO. Based on a recommendation I saw from Brulosopher in the recipe thread, I eliminated the dry hop all together and instead did a massive flameout/whirlpool hop (4.28 oz of Citra). I just transferred to the keg with no dry hop and the aroma is amazing. Peaches and fruit just busting out all over. I am amazed at how well this appears to have worked. Plus it cut time spent waiting for the dry hop to end and ensures no hop trub gets in the keg!
@bassclefbrewing I follow Ed Wort's lead and have gone to primary only, w no secondary, then rack one time into the keg and dry hop there. I dry hop in the primary fermenter, if I am bottling, rather than kegging. I think that this article is good but I'm going to up my quantities of dry hops.
Very informative article. I certainly need to up my quantity and give them more time on the beer before kegging. Thanks for sharing!
On point 1, there is evidence that you shouldn't use pellets and should instead use leaves, at least for short term flavor:
Otherwise great article.
Do you cold crash? I cold crash for a week after dry hopping and all the hops stick to the bottom of the fermenter.
I'm then careful when racking so as not to touch the bottom with the cane.
@DeMerchant @Genghis try using a hop sock (soaked in Starsan) on the end of your racking tube to catch any hop debris you pick up with the siphon. Works great for me.
@Talgrath there is analytical data from OSU's Peter Wolfe showing that pellets are superior to whole cones in aroma, flavor, and perceived bitterness for shorter time periods: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/34093/Wolfe_thesis.pdf
How would you incorporate cold-crashing and finings in your dry hop schedule? I've just had the first tasting of my attempt. Whirlpool hop for 40mins ([email protected]). Cold crash @ 7 days to bottling, dry hop @ 4 days (2oz) and gelatin @ 3 days. Crystal clear but hop flavor and aroma were disappointingly subtle.
Clearly I didn't follow your guideline of hopping at higher temps but even if I did I'd end up with the same question i asked at the start.
I keg hop all the time, which is the same temp as Tippsy is describing above, and it takes at least a week if not a little more to get the aroma you'd expect at warmer temps. Also has a tendency to get more grassy, so hop choice is important there. I've gone back to dry hopping in primary mostly and using the keg hop to "finish" it with a little bit of a fruity hop like Amarillo, which stays in the keg. I get better aroma with the warm dryhop vs. just the keg hop.
@Talgrath there is analytical data from OSU's Peter Wolfe showing that pellets are superior to whole cones in aroma, flavor, and perceived bitterness for shorter time periods: http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/34093/Wolfe_thesis.pdf
There's at least four ways to add hop aroma late boil kettle, whirlpool or knockout, fermentor dry hops and keg dry hop so why not just go ahead and use all of the methods. Ultimately your taste buds will be the deciding factor but upping the amount of hops used while increasing their contact time with the beer has given me great results.
Good write-up, thanks!
A few years back I stumbled on the fact that higher dry hop temperatures resulted in much better aroma. I dry hop at 70F now and get massive aroma from fewer hops.
When you say 1.5 oz per gallon is that 1 oz. for dry hop #1 followed by .5 oz per gallon for dry hop #2?
@Roadie I do 1.5oz/gal total, but split into two additions. For example, for a 5 gallon batch, I will dry hop 7.5oz total, 3.75oz for dry hop #1 and 3.75oz for dry hop #2 (it's easier math for me that way). You can do however you wish though!
Good read. You have filled in some gaps in my knowledge of the subject. As with many articles here on HBT yours has provided important information that will ultimately help many of us make better beer. Thanks!