|When you look at the history and evolution of a style, it is typical to follow the beer. The story of pale ale usually
leads back to Burton upon Trent in the English Midlands.. But American Pale Ale has it's own story that starts in
1956 in Corvallis, Oregon, where a plant researcher working for the USDA had planted 7,000 seedlings of new
hop crosses, hoping to find a variety resistant to downy mildew. Developing new varieties of hops is a slow
business. Eventually, over the next 12 years, one of those little seedlings—No. 56013—worked its way through
successive rounds of eliminations and field trials. Finally in 1968, the first commercial Cascade is out.
it was the first American hop with measurable farnesene—an aromatic compound found in classic Nobles such as
Saaz and Tettnanger. The aroma of Cascade is delicate, slightly spicy.... Aroma notes associated with Cluster,
Brewers Gold, Bullion, and Talisman and described as ‘American aroma’ are absent or very subdued in Cascade.”
The first beer to tap into the power of Cascade was a celebratory beer brewed in advance of the American
bicentennial in 1975. The Anchor Brewery made a robust ale of 5.9 percent ABV hopped exclusively with
Cascade—47 IBUs worth. It was not a big seller, and its full, fruity profile wasn’t quite where beers would eventually
go. Nevertheless, it must have turned heads in the same year that Miller was launching the first national light beer.
The more important beer arrived five years later, in a green bottle. Sierra Nevada was among that first cohort of
founding breweries, and its first beer was Pale Ale. Founder Ken Grossman.said he chose the Cascade hop for
his new pale ale because it was about the only signature American aroma hop at the time.
The original formulation of that beer contained three elements that would become a blueprint for American brewing
over the next 30 years. He used a neutral yeast, a decent dollop of crystal malt for a sweet, caramel note, and
those unique local hops. The process didn’t call for dry hopping (though Sierra used that technique in
Celebration) but instead for large infusions of late-boil Cascades. The rich note of caramel sweetness was a
perfect counterpoint to (what was then considered) an intense bitterness, but it also drew out the sweeter, fruity
quality of American hops. It was such a winning combination of flavors that almost every brewery in America
imitated it. Pale ales based on this template would remain the most popular style in the craft segment until 2011.
That year marked an important transition point in the popularity of pale ales and in the way Americans made
Unlike other herbs, hops act as an antimicrobial agent, so brewers boiled them in wort so the beer would keep
longer. Whether a beer was strongly or weakly hopped, brewers put most or all of the hops in at the start of boil.
Americans eventually turned that conventional practice on its head. Americans hops had been bred for maximum
bittering potential and, for a time, IPAs were extremely bitter—a consequence of using high-alpha hops in quantity
throughout the process. Yet by the mid-2000s, brewers were increasingly going after the intense tropical-fruit
flavors that American hops could provide, rather than their bitterness. To extract those flavors, they used more
and more hops, but later and later in the process. The emergence of juicy American-style IPAs has been one of
the watershed developments in brewing; the flavors and aromas were unprecedented, and brewers were using
hops in ways that would have been inconceivable even a decade earlier. Fortunately, not long after that
conversation, pale ale 2.0 emerged—beers that strike a balance between the drinkability of the first era and
the hoppy saturation of the second.
The etymology of the term “dry-hopping” may be lost to history. Some theorize that at one time, hops came into
the brewery fresh, and were used fresh on brew day. Then, when hops from that same batch were added seven or
more days later, the hops had dried.Others say the term developed because the brewer is adding them at a time
when you’re no longer touching liquor (brewer’s term for water) or wort, the process requiring only tossing dry
hops into a fermenter. Though it doesn’t necessarily make sense, just know any hop added after the wort has
been chilled on brew day is considered a “dry hop” no matter what form the hop comes in. As such, any hop
addition to wort or beer after it has been chilled to fermentation temperatures is considered dry-hopping. At these
lower temperatures, different aspects of the hops are utilized.
Alpha acids are the compound in hops that make beer bitter. However, they only produce bitterness after they
have been isomerized into iso-alpha acids via a chemical process that occurs at temperatures over 175 degrees
Fahrenheit. (This usually takes place during the brewing process in the boil at 212 degrees F.) Since the additions
take place at cool temperatures, beer does not become more bitter from hops added during dry-hopping because
alpha acids are never converted.
Hope you found this month's column of interest. If you have any questions about beer or brewing
or just want to submit a word for me to discuss here just e-mail it to me.
Thanks and Cheers!
|American Pale Ale // Dry Hopping
|A new column by
|Jack O'Reilly attended the
famous Siebel Institute/ World
Brewing Academy in Chicago.
|I'm very excited to be part of the BeerNexus team. I think my many years in the
beer business both as a brewer and manger will enable me to explain and
investigate many topics of interest for those who really love craft beer.
Hope you join me every month.
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#31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37, #38
|Techniques and insights
for the serious ceft beer
fan and home brewer.