Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dry Hop Test with Miler Lite & Results

Back in March of this year, the Bertus Brewery Blog posted about doing dry hop tests with Bud Light. It seems that the idea was originally conceived by brewers at Anchor in order to test the character of newly available hops, and after reading the Bertus post, seems like a great way to quickly and cheaply test out individual hops and combinations of hops for flavor and aroma contributions from dry hopping (I strongly feel dry hopping provides both flavor and aroma).

For my test I selected 13 different hop varietals to test: US Glacier, US Apollo, US Calypso, UK Challenger, US Mosaic, US Citra, US Bravo, US Simcoe, NZ Nelson Sauvin, NZ Pacific Jade, NZ Pacific Hallertau (aka Pacifica), Golden Road Brewing NZ Moteuka (Supplied for the GABF Mystery Hops Competition), NZ Moteuka (HopUnion).

In regards to doing the actual dry hopping... I used 16 oz aluminum Miller Lite Cans with resealable screw tops.   My standard dry hop size for a batch is around 3 ounces, which is 85 grams.  Assuming 54 bottles per 5 gallon batch that puts the dry hop per a 12 oz bottle at 1.5 grams.  Since the bottles are 16 oz, that puts the dry hop amount at 2 grams per a bottle.  Pellets were weighed on a lab scale with an error of +/- 1 mg, so measurements were exactly 2 grams per bottle.  Bottles were opened, hops were added and a drop of biofine was added to each bottle.  Hops were left at room temp for 5 days before being moved to the fridge for 3 days to clear.

Interestingly, I tasted the hop character of some bottles at 3 days, and it was night and day compared to the 5 day mark (+ 3 day crash cool).  The hops Citra and Mosaic had little to no flavor and tasted somewhat grassy and weak whereas at the 5 day mark they were potent as hell (read description below).  Notably, this is similar to what I've seen in my 5 gallon batches when I tried to shift to the 3 day dry hop scheme as opposed to my standard 7 day schedule.

So, after all that, here are my tasting notes on the hop varietals I dry hopped Miller Lite with:

US Glacier
Aroma:  Pineapple, berry, slight citrus (orange peel)
Taste:  Earthy, straw, soapy, slight tart citrus (orange peel)
Misc:  Surly Bitter Brewer (Great beer BTW) is an all US Glacier beer, and it has a strong straw and tart citrus flavor, suggesting that maybe what Glacier contributes in the boil as well.

US Apollo
Aroma:  Plant stems, straw, musty closet, weed, grapefruit
Taste:  Onion (not sweet), harsh and lingering bitterness, dirt covered grapefruit, skunk
Misc: This hop has a great grapefruit and onion character when used in the boil (personal experience).  Incredibly potent, and cheap as hell.  Don't use it as a SMaSH beer hop (I did) because it will come out way to potent and exhibit some off flavors (ONION!  FOOT!  ARMPIT!) in addition to grapefruit.

US Calypso
Aroma:  Honey, apricots, floral, reminiscent of ice wine
Taste:  White wine (sweet), melon, lemon, clean grapefruit, sweet tea

UK Challenger
Aroma:  Apple, sharp citrus (orange), fresh cut daisies
Taste:  Flower stems, slight tartness, fresh cut daisies

US Mosaic
Aroma:  Peaches, passionfruit, slight funkiness/dankness
Taste:  Passionfruit (HUGE), subtle dankness, peach
Misc:  Like a mix of Galaxy, Citra and Nelson.  I dissed this hop when I first tried it, but stand corrected.

US Citra
Aroma:  Lychee, tropical fruit (Guava, pineapple, passion fruit), peaches
Taste:  Lychee, tropical fruit (Guava, pineapple, passion fruit), melon (cantaloupe), grapefruit, acidic
Misc:  Boil use is more tinged to tropical fruit, less grapefruit more lychee, guava and passionfruit.  Potent as a dry hop, but still very well rounded.

US Bravo
Aroma:  Grapes, miscellaneous fruitiness, faint citrus
Taste:  A bit bland (Same as commercial brews using this as sole hop): faint grapes, tart citrus, chalkyness with a touch of spice
Misc:  Not a fan of this hop in anything I've tried it in (Commercial or Dry hopped Miller Lite).  Curious to try it in a friends homebrew that I've been sitting on.

US Simcoe
Aroma:  Peaches, passionfruit, pineapple, catty/musky, faint pine
Taste:  Spicy, peaches, pine, cat whiz

NZ Nelson Sauvin
Aroma:  Musty, dank (pot), funky white wine
Taste:  Big musty white wine and dankness.  Slight peach flavor coming through.

NZ Pacific Jade
Aroma:  Huge dankness (e.g. pot), earthy, black pepper, orange rind, just punchy/strong flavors across the board
Taste:  Spicy, dank, strong citrus rind, dry wine
Misc:  Nelson Sauvin with amped up with citrus and pepper flavors/aroma.  Awesome.

NZ Pacific Hallertau (aka Pacifica)
Aroma:  Strong dankness (Nelson like), earthy, musky citrus, slight skunk
Taste:  Mild dankness, earthy, strong citrus lingers in finish, some white wine
Misc:  One of my favorite hops.  Mixed 50% Pacifica, 25% Citra, 25% Mosaic = dankness with ludicrous amounts of tropical fruit.

NZ Moteuka (Supplied for the Golden Road Brewing GABF Mystery Hops Competition)
Aroma:  Very marijuana like, skunky (as in animal), citrus (orange, pineapple), dirt, stemmy
Taste:  Funky (toe jam), marijuana, citrus (orange, pineapple), maui onion, spicy

NZ Moteuka (HopUnion)
Aroma:  Cantaloupe, honey dew melon, flowers, honey, mango, peaches
Taste:  Melon (Cantaloupe, honey dew) for days, pineapple, citrus (lemon & orange rind), peaches
Misc:  Pretty amazing hop.  In stark contrast to the GRB Moteuka, this one is amazing and will be used soon.  40% Moteuka, 40% Citra, 20% Pacifica is an awesome blend.


  1. Great post-- as usual I find you palette to be pretty spot on with mine.

    Really excited to get some of the NZ varieties that I haven't tried yet.

    Also, more love for Calypso! Such nice verbena and jasmine blossom notes with meyer lemon and pear skin. Sweet tea for sure :)

    1. I was shocked to find the calypso to be so interesting. I heard that it was a nice hop, but hadn't had any beers that were single hopped with Calypso to get a good idea of what it brought to the table.

      Re the comment you made about 2012 Simcoe, definitely some kitty whiz in the dry hopped Miller Lite, so... next round I'll throw some 2011 Simcoe I have into a can next to some 2012 and see if its a harvest dependent characteristic.

      Looking forward to trying out some of the experimental hops and lots of other US, English and German varietals that I haven't tried in the brewhouse yet.

  2. I am currently doing some testing myself. I actually did some calculations and brewed a small batch of bittering (Simcoe\Apollo)and finishing (Mosaic) hops and infused the bottles after a 60 minute boil. I also added the dry hops. The first batch settled for a week and now is in the refrigerator. I hope to try this week. My reason for doing this was a little different than everyone else. I wanted a hop-heavy beer with a lot fewer calories. My primary concern going in is that the body won't carry the hops, but I'd like to try it anyway. The biggest problem that I encountered was nucleation (like Mentos & soda combo)due to the hop "liquor" that I infused. I lost the first bottle because I wasn't expecting it. All others I capped FAST! Anyway, I hope to follow-up with some data.