Fresh Hops vs Wet Hops vs Dry Hops – What’s the Difference?
If you’re an IPA lover, you’ve probably seen the term “Fresh-Hopped” or “Wet-Hopped” on your brew, but what does it mean? Learn the difference between dry-hopped and wet-hopped:
By Clara Jaide on Nov. 04, 2020
If you’re an IPA lover or if you’ve spent some time in your local craft breweries, you’ve probably heard the terms “fresh-hopped beer”, “dry-hopped beer”, or “wet-hopped beer”. Obviously, these terms are referring to the hops in your beer, what exactly do they mean and what’s the difference?
What’s the difference between fresh-hopped beer, wet-hopped beer and dry-hopped beer?
The difference all comes down to the hop harvest season, which only happens once a year and usually ranges from mid-late August through September. At this time, hop bines are cut and hop cones are processed. However, beer is brewed all year round, so how do we preserve hops to make beer?
How are hops preserved?
To be able to use hops throughout the year, hop coneflowers are dried out and frozen to extend their lifespan. (Think like frozen veggies!) Most beers are brewed “pellet hops.” These are ground and compressed hop cones that are made into little pellets that look like rabbit food.
Hops are then added to the beer-making process when the wort (a.k.a. unfermented beer) begins to boil inside the brew kettle. When the first load of hops is added to boiling water, they undergo isomerization. (When a molecule is transformed into a new molecule with the same atoms but in a different arrangement/order.) This turns the alpha acids in hops into water-soluble, bitter compounds. Thus adding the “hoppiness” to your beer.
Usually, hop pellets are added to the wort in the boil kettle at different times for different results. Hop pellets are added early for bitterness, halfway through for flavour, or toward the end for aroma.
Let’s get a little more in-depth…
What is Dry-Hopped Beer?
Dry-Hopped vs. Wet-Hopped – What makes a beer dry-hopped?
Dry-hopping is when hops are added after boiling. Boiling the hops tends to remove volatile hop oils that are responsible for aroma and flavour. So in order to bring back and increase the aroma and flavour from hops, the brewer will add new hops again after the boil.
Most beers are hopped with hop pellets, but are not “dry-hopped.” Traditionally, hop pellets are added to the wort in the boil kettle in three stages: early on for bitterness, halfway through for flavour, and toward the end for aroma.
Examples of Dry-Hopped Beers
- Dry-Hopped ESB – Steel & Oak Brewing
- Kettle Sour Brett Trois – Blindman Brewing
- Noble Cuvee – Blackberry Farm Brewery
What is Wet-Hopped Beer? (Fresh Hopped)
What is Fresh-hopped beer?
During harvest season, brewers have the opportunity to use freshly picked hops in their brews. These hops are picked and transported straight to the brewery to be added to the brewing process immediately so the hops can maintain their freshness. Fresh and wet-hopped beers have a shorter shelf life than dry-hopped beers.
Wet-Hopped vs. Fresh-Hopped – What’s the Difference?
The Hop Growers of America describe wet hops as wet, unkilned hops. While fresh hops are kiln-dried and used as whole cones during the brewing process.
Examples of Fresh / Wet-Hopped Beers
- Born Yesterday – Lagunitas Brewing Company
- Mother’s Harvest – Upland Brewing Company
- Harvest Ale – Founders Brewing Company
Now that you know the difference between dry-hopped and wet-hopped beer, check out these other beer education articles you might like:
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