The letters “DDH” frequently appear in beer descriptions on IPA labels and taproom chalkboards. It stands for Double Dry Hopped India Pale Ale, and while the term might be familiar to passionate beer lovers, the style itself can be confusing.
“I think that double dry hopping can mean different things to different brewers,” says Jean-Claude Tetreault, cofounder and brewer at Trillium Brewing Co. in Massachusetts.
In brewing, hops are traditionally added during the boil, which extracts oils from the cones or processed pellets, creating flavors and aromas as well as imparting bitterness to the finished product. Conversely, dry hopping is the act of adding hops to a lager or ale after the liquid has cooled, while it is fermenting or being conditioned in a tank. The practice has been around for generations and infuses brighter, more vibrant hop flavors and robust aromas.
As IPAs grew in popularity during the modern American brewing renaissance, hop-forward ales became top sellers, and brewers sought ways to differentiate themselves while conveying that the desired smack of lupulin drinkers desired could be found in their bottles.
The rise of New England-style IPAs led to extreme pushes for big, vibrant hop aromas without excessive bitterness, and brewers began to say their beers were “double dry hopped.” In this style, comparatively smaller amounts of hops would be used on the hot side of the brewing process, while brewers opted to primarily dose beers after fermentation had begun.
Does that mean the beers have the same quantity of hops added to the cold side as the hot side brewing? Maybe! Does it mean that a certain amount hops per barrel are added on the cold side and then an equal volume are added again days later? Possibly! Does double dry hopping mean that that a brewer has added an unholy amount of hops to a beer? Yes, absolutely.
“Our first double dry hopped beer in 2013 meant a second full dry hopping, after the first, so really twice the amount of dry hops in the vessel,” says Tetreault. “That has since evolved to a single charge that is twice the volume. We found over the years that we didn’t perceive any necessary improvement over a single charge versus two separate charges.”
Dry hopping no matter the rate or volume has become the “heart and soul” of New England-style IPAs, says Tetreault. “It’s what makes these beers stand out in a crowd.”