What the hell is DDH and why do I want more of it? Let’s let Jeff Hardesty explain

Photo courtesy of Narrow Gauge Brewing Co.

If you already know everything there is to know about beer, then forgive me, you have no need to read further.  I happen to love beer and love nearly everything about it, but I don’t KNOW everything about it, not even close.

Recently, I saw this Facebook post from one of my favorite St. Louis breweries Narrow Gauge.

Now, Fallen Flag, an American IPA, is one of Jeff Hardesty’s best and I love it. But the DDH threw me off.  What did DDH mean? A quick search online explained that it means Double Dry Hopped, which of course lent the obvious question, what’s a Dry Hop, much less a double version.

To cut through the clutter, I decided to go straight to the brewer himself to understand more about Double Dry Hopping, what it is, why he does it, and what will bring out in the beers he makes.

Jeff, before we get into explaining dry hopping, can you tell us what hops are and what they do?
Hops are an ingredient used in beer to help with the preservation of beer.  Fortunately for us, they are quite tasty.  They are the main ingredient in most IPAs of which give the beers its bitterness as well as flavor and aroma.  Hops are actually flowers from a plant.  There are many varieties ranging in flavors and aromas from fruity to herbal.

What is dry hopping and why and how do you do it?
Dry hopping is the incorporation of hops into the fermenter.  It’s kind of a strange term as wet hopping actually refers to the use of hops that are not kilned dry for longer term storage, which must be used as soon as possible after being picked.  Dry hopping is what will give most of the beers we make its flavor and aroma.  When dry hopping, there is a port at the top of our fermenters that we dump the hops straight into.  This puts all the hops in contact with the wort (unfinished beer), which will extract the flavor and aroma you get out of our beers.

Why do it twice?  Is TDH next, Triple Dry Hopping?
Everyone can consider double dry hopping.  Some might consider just simply doubling the hops in the beer.  Some might consider separating the dry hops into two different additions.  I consider it the separation of the hopping into two different additions and increasing the quantity of hops used, but not necessarily double the amount.  This benefits the aroma and flavor of the beers in my opinion.  Plenty of places are doing triple dry hops, which may have some benefits.  I personally don’t have any experience with it and truly believe you get to a point where you dry hop with such a quantity that it maxes out the aroma the flavor you can achieve.

What does all this mean for me the beer drinker?
In my opinion is it means you can expect a more intense hop character than you would in the normal version of the beer.

What can we look for in a DH or DDH brew?
You should perceive hop flavors in either style, but typically the DDH version should express the hops in a more intense way.  In excess, this could lead to grassiness as well.

Is this a trend or here to stay? 
I think it is here to stay.  Typically with IPAs the first you ever have you may perceive as being super intense, which is pretty normal.  As your palate develops you may start to become more numb to these hop aromas and flavors.  A DDH version of a beer can help bring that intensity back.

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