Author Topic: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness  (Read 1400 times)

Offline lupulus

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Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« on: May 27, 2015, 03:54:04 PM »
Hi all,
Sorry to be perceived as beating as dead horse... I brew very dry IPAs and DIPAs. I have Pliny (Elder) clones finishing at 1.008 to 1.009, and I have always perceived a touch of sweetness that I do not perceive in other beers. Because Pliny calls for a Caramel malt (using Caraamber because it is what I get in Munich), I forced myself to keep my mouth shut about this sensation, thinking that this perceived sweetness should be from the Caraamber. And before, you say "oxidation", I bottle condition (or keg condition) IPAs and the only transfer I do, is before fermentation is completely done, so any oxygen during the transfer is theoretically absorbed by the yeast.
So, after a visit to Austin, Texas, I decided to clone Noble King, a dry hopped sour, bought a bottle, grew the culture, Fermented it for two weeks to 1.003, and dry hopped with 75g of Mittelfrüh and 75g of Mandarina Bavaria (whole hops) for a 21 liter volume. (I tasted the beer before dry-hopping and noted no sweetness at all.). Finished dry hopping and keg most of the beer with sugar at 5g/L and left it conditioning for 3 months at about 20 Celsius (68F). Chilled the keg two days ago, tapped today, and tasted the beer. It is very good, lemony sour, bretty aromas, dry hop spicy flavors, and SWEETNESS. The sweetness cannot be described as malty, it is very simple, like splenda/ stevia (no sugar coating). So, I checked for gravity to ensure the sugar added for carbonation was consumed, and the beer (degassed) was at 1.002. The important point to keep in mind, is that we are talking about a truckload of dry-hops, so please only comment if you have experience with the "truckload model". So, as Sherlock use to say, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
Now your turn to shoot me down :-)
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Offline gman23

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Re: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2015, 04:04:28 PM »
My buddy who loves really hoppy beers always refers to ones that he likes as having a 'sweet hop' flavor. He prefers drier and less malty examples. Sounds kind of like what you are referring to...
« Last Edit: May 27, 2015, 04:07:02 PM by goschman »
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2015, 04:30:46 PM »
First of all, on a IIPA, regardless of hop varieties used, the moderately high alcohol present carries a subtle sweetness. I don't pick up on this in most standard IPAs (sub 1.065 OG) though. But the newer 'fruity' varieties of hops definitely give a beer a slightly sweet perception to me, though there is obviously no sugar in the hops. When I make a beer using these types of hops (Mandarina, Citra, Mosaic, El Dorado, etc.) I back off a tad on the crystal to account for this. You're not imagining it.
Jon H.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2015, 06:16:06 PM »
Alcohol can have a perception of sweetness. Those are both higher alcohol beers, is it possible that this is the source of the sweet perceptions?
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Offline dilluh98

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Re: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2015, 07:13:54 PM »
I believe there is something to the idea of hops giving a perception of sweetness. I have had several session IPAs recently that have this quality. Alcohol can’t explain the sweetness in this case obviously. I think it’s a combination of how the hops are used and which types of hops are used. I feel like the “trick” to session IPA is to do huge amounts of late/whirlpool/dry-hop with very fruity/aromatic/flavorful hops that help mask the fact that there isn’t much backing up the beer otherwise. I know that sounds like I’m bashing the style - I’m not. It’s just that something has to give if you want a low alcohol option that tastes like an IPA. The failures in this category have a slight watery taste and mouthfeel.

I get a similar impression in a lot of newer IPAs. The huge flavor and aromatics of the hop often make these beers seem sickly sweet to me. They are almost not at all bitter - just extremely hoppy, if that makes any sense. It's all preference of course but I honestly don't care for it. I want a balance of straight-ahead bitterness with a touch of aroma/flavor in an IPA.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2015, 07:19:25 PM »
First of all, on a IIPA, regardless of hop varieties used, the moderately high alcohol present carries a subtle sweetness. I don't pick up on this in most standard IPAs (sub 1.065 OG) though. But the newer 'fruity' varieties of hops definitely give a beer a slightly sweet perception to me, though there is obviously no sugar in the hops. When I make a beer using these types of hops (Mandarina, Citra, Mosaic, El Dorado, etc.) I back off a tad on the crystal to account for this. You're not imagining it.
+1 - I love hops and use an insane amount in my brews. But I can't stand IIPA - it just tastes too sweet to me. I think there is an interplay between the alcohol and hops that doesn't work for my palate - it makes it taste like cough syrup or candy. I brew all my IPA's at 6% or less.

Having said that, there are definitely some hops that come across as sweeter. El Dorado is a big one. Mosaic and Meridian can be as well.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2015, 03:10:05 PM »
You don't even have to add hops by the truckload to get sweetness out of some of the newer fruity hops.

Something else to consider is that the hop oils you are searching for in your dry hops are oils and work similarly to other fats and oils in other foods you consume. There is a very good chance the alcohol and hop oils are commingling in your mouth to produce that sweet flavor you dislike. Unfortunately that isn't something you can fix by brewing differently except to change the recipes you are brewing.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Dry hopping and perceived sweetness
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2015, 05:39:40 PM »
I have limited experience with the truckload model, but I have a suggestion.  Try making the same beers without the hop level (dry hop load) and see if the perceived sweetness is there, if so, then try a bit more bittering load and if it remains, try a lower OG brew.  Between those steps, you should be better able to discover how your perception of sweetness arises in each instance and adjust accordingly to obtain the lesser sweet level you seek.

Sometimes varying a recipe in this way allows you to fine tune things for your palate.  I brew a lot of lighter lagers that straddle styles - but they are what I like and, while stylistically "off", they are eminently drinkable.  I got them to where they are by brewing repeatedly and varying aspects to dial in what I want to achieve in the end.  Many commercial brewers are not constrained by style guidelines and sell wonderful beers with their own personality.  That sounds like what you may find to be best for you.  Best of luck.
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