Lesson 10: Hop Talk

There’s a lot of “hop talk” that gets thrown around when discussing beer. So, what’s the difference between dried hops and a dry hopped beer? And, are fresh hops and wet hops just two different names that mean the same?

Dry Hopping & Dried Hops

A common misconception is that dry hopping involves harvesting and drying hops, but dry hopping actually refers to a brewing process where additional hops are added during fermentation to enhance flavours and aromas of a beer.

Dried hops, on the other hand, are hops that have been harvested and dried. After clearing the fields, hops are moved to drying rooms where they are spread across the floor and dried with hot air. To optimize preservation, most hops are shaped into pellets after being dried and can be used for up to 3 years. Alternatively, hops are sometimes kept intact as whole hop cones, which have a more limited shelf life of approximately one year.

Fresh Hops and Wet Hops

According to Brewer’s Association guidelines, “fresh or wet hop” beer has to be made from freshly picked hop cones. These hop cones can either be kilned (dried) or unkilned (wet). Most breweries are consistently using wet, undried hops for this style of beer, using the terms “fresh” and “wet hop” interchangeably.

Fresh or wet hop beers can only be made during harvest season, which in North America is from late August to early September. These hops expire relatively quickly and must be used within approximately 24 hours of harvest.

What makes this particular beer style unique is that hop cones have high levels of acids, oils and aromatics with grassy, plant-like and “green” flavours, but without the bitterness of a beers brewed with massive amounts of dry hops. The harvest season is upon us, so you’ll be seeing a new crop of these fresh/wet hop beers very soon. Be sure to try this seasonal delight while you can.