I love IPAs, and since dry hopping can cause a whole lot of issues unless you have a way of doing it without introducing oxygen, I decided to do the experiment of actually testing if dry hopping in the bottle works.
Of course, I did some research beforehand and most people seemed to think that it doesn’t work, that dry hopping in the bottle usually imparts a “vegetable” flavor onto the beer, that it carbonates the beer way too much making it gush once opened, that the hops particles (if using pellets) don’t drop to the bottom of the bottle and you end up transferring all of that into the glass, etc.
I went ahead anyway since it’s a fun way of testing things out and did my best to document the differences between the beer.
I tested one bottle with a single hop pellet, and another one with two pellets, and then compared them both to a bottle that wasn’t dry hopped.
Can you Dry Hop Beer directly in the bottle?
Dry Hopping beer directly in the bottle is definitely doable but not recommended since it will come with a more buttery mouthfeel and it will have a slight “vegetable” aftertaste (depending on the number of hops you add).
If you leave the beer in the fridge enough time, the hops particles that are floating on top of the beer should drop to the bottom eventually, which means that they shouldn’t make their way into the glass once you pour the beer into it.
Let’s see how the two bottles I dry hopped came out, if there was any difference in carbonation, taste, aroma, and more.
Hop Pellet Size I used
I know that hop pellets come in slightly different sizes, so I wanted to show exactly the size of the ones I used to dry hop in the bottle (See image below):
I added only a single pellet to the first bottle I tested, and then two to the second bottle.
So, let’s see the results:
First Bottle Tested
Note: I only added a single hop pellet to the first bottle.
I opened the first bottle pretty early on (day 6 after bottling) because I know that hops can add to the carbonation levels and I wanted to test both the difference in carbonation with a beer that I didn’t add hops to, as well as the taste.
To my surprise, when I opened it, I didn’t really get a “gushing” beer, but rather one that seemed to have pretty normal carbonation levels, so that’s a plus.
As far as aroma goes, it didn’t really smell any different than the beer I bottled without the hops.
Taste-wise it also didn’t really “taste” any different, but the mouthfeel was quite different: I would describe it as buttery but without really tasting like butter.
As far as bitterness goes, both beers were just as bitter (I know that dry hopping doesn’t add bitterness, but I wasn’t sure what would happen when adding hops straight to the bottle).
Second Bottle Tested
As far as the second bottle goes, since I added two hop pellets, the story was a little different.
I opened it 10 days after and when comparing it to another bottle that I hadn’t added hops to, the carbonation levels were a lot higher (as seen in the picture below):
What was interesting, however, is that the dry-hopped beer, despite having higher carbonation levels, didn’t feel like it, or in other words, I could feel the tiny bubbles in the non dry-hopped beer a lot more when tasting it, even though it was a lot less carbonated.
The aroma, in this case, was a bit hoppier but not by much.
However, what really changed was the taste: It had a sort of “vegetable” taste to it, and that buttery mouthfeel I described earlier for the first beer had become a lot worse.
Again, it didn’t taste buttery, it was only the way it felt.
Comparing the Dry Hopped beer to a Regular one
The truth is that, at least as far as I was able to test, there is a difference but it’s definitely not as bad as people make it out to be.
First, the taste of the beer got a little more “Grassy” or “vegetable”, but only in the more heavily-hopped beer.
Second, and by far what I disliked the most, Mouthfeel: The dry hopped beers had a butterfly mouthfeel, accentuated in the one with more hops, which isn’t all that pleasant.
Third, the aroma of the beer was definitely not IPA-like, but the one with more hops had a bit more aroma to it.
Fourth, when pouring my beer, no hops residues made their way into the glass, which is something that a lot of people complained about online. In my case, everything dropped to the bottom and the beer came out extremely clear.
Now, would I recommend doing this?
To be honest, I wouldn’t. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be on the forums, but both of the bottles that I opened that weren’t dry hopped tasted better… a lot better.
Still, I would recommend you test this out for yourself since it’s both fun and you might even like the result.
In short; you can absolutely dry hop directly in the bottle, but I don’t think I’d recommend it or ever do it again.
Sure, it was a fun experiment, but the beer didn’t taste as good as the one I bottled regularly, plus it’s really hard to calculate the amount of priming sugar you need when doing this since hops will add to the carbonation levels of the beer, making it completely unpredictable.
While I didn’t get a “gushing” beer, I can totally see how this could happen since the bottle that I added two hop pellets two had almost three times as much foam. If I added more, it probably would have been a disaster.
Still, you should try it yourself and see if you actually enjoy the taste or not!