I recently participated in a dry hopping experiment with members of Brew Westminster. In this experiment, 15 bottles of generic American lager were purchased destined to 15 different hop varieties. The beer was chilled and opened. 2 grams of hops was added to each bottle, which was then recapped, and allowed to sit in a fridge for 4 days. The results were quite interesting.
It’s important, I think, to note that some of the hops clashed in odd ways with the generic American lager. It was, at times, difficult to pick out the aromas and flavours. Some were subtle, some were rather intense. Some fit within the realm of my expectations while others deviated wildly. Although this was a fun and informative experiment, I’d take the results with a grain of salt. Interestingly, the recapped bottles were still very carbonated so flat beer wasn’t an issue. Also, interestingly, the aromas /flavours of whole leaf hops seemed to “blend” better into the beer than the with the pellets. Based on that experience, I’d advise anyone doing a similar experiment to use whole leaf. The descriptions below include my interpretation of both aroma and taste.
Galaxy: Sweaty sock aroma, lemon rind, very unpleasant. (This one deviated most from my expectations since the hop itself is so rich with tropical aromas. I think I had to adjust my palate to the oddity of generic American lager being dry hopped in this manner. Since this was the first one, the results might be a bit biased. I think there was a sweaty sock theme throughout, which I stopped commenting on)
Cascade: A bit earthy in aroma with floral soapiness. Does actually smell like cascade
Centennial: Floral like cascade but with more citrus on the palate
Glacier: Subtle aroma with flavour of sweet black tea
Chinook: Piney flavour and aroma! This one actually complimented the beer more than any of the others did so far
Amarillo: Surprisingly subtle. A pit of pine in the aroma with some ‘juicy’ citrus in the flavour
Mt Hood: Earthy and grassy (plenty of sweaty sock odor coming off of this one) with some peppery spice to the flavour
Saaz: Fruity, grassy. Quite potent and more complex than the others have been in flavour and aroma
Tettnang: Herby and grassy. Similar to Saaz but milder
Sterling: Earthy, grassy, much like tettnang. Maybe some citrus present in flavour.
Styrian Golding: Sweet black tea flavour, like Glacier. Compliments the American lager in a better way than the noble hop varieties
Sorachi Ace: Dill aroma with some lime. Very bold flavour! Surprisingly more reminiscent of bread and butter pickles in taste than dill
Simcoe: Citrus aroma. Juicy pink grapefruit on palate. Weird combination happening here
Perle: Minty. Reminiscent of spearmint gum. Actually kind of refreshing
Willamette: I get sweet black tea again but blended in better (because of whole leaf??) than Glacier or Styrian Golding. Actually kind of pleasant (But since this was the last one, maybe my taste buds have adjusted to the oddity of generic American lager being dry hopped in this manner!)