If you are just getting into the craft beer scene or even if you are a certified “beer geek” and happened to have misplaced your acronym binder, you may be wondering what this “DDH” is that you are seeing EVERYWHERE as a suffix to all of your favorite Pale Ales, IPAs, or NEIPAs. Well wonder no more! This fancy term stands for “Double Dry Hopped”. Well you might ask, “’Double Dry Hopped’… what in God’s name is dry hopping to begin with?...” Well we will explain them both!
To clearly explain “dry hopping”, we must first talk about how hops are added to the finished beer in the first place. Hops are actually flowers (in the family “Cannabinacea”, which is the same family as another flower that all the kids seem to be raving about) that were first added to beer for their antiseptic and preservative qualities which allowed for beer to avoid spoilage during its shipment to the local pub or even a different continent. Hops are also added to counter balance the malt sweetness of the wort (unfermented beer) because if not, the finished product would basically be alcoholic oatmeal in liquid form. Hops are added at multiple points in the brewing process. During the boil, the longer the hops are in contact with the boiling wort, the more bitterness will be contributed to the finished beer. This is due to isomerization. The alpha-acids in the hops, which are not water soluble, are isomerized into iso-alpha-acids at boiling temperatures where they contribute to bitter flavor you associate with your favorite IPA. Basically, the longer the hops remain in contact with boiling wort, the more bitterness they impart. BUT… at these temperatures, the volatile oils of the hop flower that contribute to the flavor and aroma of the finished beer are boiled off and driven away within 15-20 minutes. This being said, brewers use hops like a chef uses seasonings; introducing them throughout the process. The first additions, known as the bittering additions or first additions will contribute bitterness but no flavor or aroma whereas the later additions will contribute little to no bitterness but all flavor and aroma. NOW… let’s get into “dry hopping”!
Dry hopping is kinda-sorta what it sounds like. It is adding “dry” hops (although they do get wet, they are not to be confused with “wet hopping”, which is using freshly picked hops… and for another discussion) after the wort has cooled but before the beer is packaged. This addition provides no bitterness to the beer, because the alpha acids are not isomerized, but allows the volatile hop oils to infuse into the beer to incorporate all of the wonderful flavors and aromas of the specific hop. Now, with that out of the way, what the fuck is “double dry hopping”? Well the answer to that isn’t as cut and dry. Double dry hopping is all about “doubling”, but the definition is dependent on the brewer. As in some beers, the brewer will just take the hops that they would normally uses when dry-hopping the beer and simply double it. In other circumstances, they would dry-hop the beer in two stages. In some other circumstances, they would do BOTH! For example, in some of the hazy and aromatic N.E.I.P.A.’s (or New England India Pale Ale’s for those of you who still can’t locate your acronym reference binder) brewers will sometimes add DOUBLE the normal amount of hops and also add them at two different times. Most dry-hops are added to a beer during the secondary fermentation, or when the majority of the fermentation process is complete. This is to avoid the carbon dioxide being produced from scrubbing away the volatile hop oils. Sometimes hops are strategically added at two different points during the fermentation, first when the primary is still active, and then later during the secondary fermentation or cellaring. When dry-hops are added to the fermenter during active fermentation, a process called “bio-transformation” occurs. This process is super nerdy and waaaayyyy above my pay grade, but basically, they yeast interact with the hops and can convert certain compounds that would normally not be aromatic into other compounds that are. As a result, the SAME beer using the SAME hops… added at different points in the fermentation process, could possibly result in a very different tasting… and smelling beer.
Regardless of the literal translation of “DDH”… the obvious one is that it’s going to be a delicious and aromatic beer!