During the early weeks of the initial lockdown, a couple of very good friends and I began Zooming twice a month. We usually begin while eating whatever food challenge we had set at the end of our previous session and drinking whatever new craft beers we've managed to find in the preceding couple of weeks. We're all craft beer lovers but are at slightly different stages of our own personal craft beer journeys.
A few weeks ago, one of my buddies had noticed something on the can of one of his newly discovered beers. He asked me, "What does DDH mean?" I gave him a short, somewhat superficial answer and the conversation wandered off in another direction. I woke up the next morning thinking that I really hadn't given him a very good answer so I decided to dedicate this column to the role of hops in brewing and the meaning of DDH.
Very simply, beer brewing begins when malted grain is mixed with hot water and steeped in order to extract the starches which have begun to convert to sugar. The liquid is then separated from the spent malt and is called wort (pronounced wert). The wort is boiled in order to sanitize it and to extract bitterness, flavour, and aroma from hops which are added in various stages.
Bittering hops are added early and boil in the wort for an average of one to one and a half hours. The bitter resins which are extracted help to balance the sweetness from the malt.
Flavouring hops are added with around 15 minutes left in the boil. Their main purpose is, of course, to add hop flavour to the wort.
During the last five or so minutes of the boil, or at 'flame out' (when the kettle is no longer being heated), aroma hops are added. They are added at this late stage so that their volatile essential oils are not driven off. Aroma, as discussed in a previous column, is responsible for about 70% of taste or flavour, cluing us in to subtle nuances that go far beyond the basic bitter, sour, salty, and sweet tastes to which our tongues are limited.
Dry hopping is the addition of aroma hops after fermentation has begun. Because the liquid is no longer hot, bitter oils are not extracted. By increasing the complex aromas, our experience of the beer's flavour is enhanced.
Double Dry Hopped (DDH) beers have been dry hopped twice during the fermentation process. Often, the first addition occurs about a week before canning with the second addition taking place about three days later. Sometimes the temperature is tweaked a little in order to subtly alter the aromas given off by the hops adding even more complexity to the finished product.
It should be pointed out that different hops can be used for any of the stages of hopping when making beer but sometimes only one type of hop is used throughout the entire brewing process.
It should also be noted that, in some cases, brewers will refer to a beer as Double Dry Hopped if dry hopped only once but with double the normal amount of hops. This is, however, a corruption of the original meaning.
Double Dry Hopping is most common among NEIPAs and NEIIPAs but is beginning to show up in other styles of ales and even the odd lager. It would seem that our passion for hops, hops, and more hops is, at this point, nearly insatiable. That's certainly the case for this insatiable hophead.